Saturday, February 23, 2013

On Hearing God's Call

SCRIPTURE: Romans 1:1
Written by: Dr Conrade Yap
Date: 23 February 2013

Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, (Romans 1:1)
It's a great feeling to be called to do something. Many students I know in seminary are powered by that insatiable thirst for deeper Bible knowledge and insights. They spend hours in research. They writes tonnes of papers ranging from Church history to Christian theology, from Christian spirituality to practical faith, from biographies of great Christian leaders to ministry skills development such as preaching, teaching, presenting, and sharing of testimonies. They go deep into the different areas of theological studies, and go wide when it comes to learning how best to present the gospel in an increasingly pluralistic world. Having mingled with many students from North America and beyond, I can say that many begin their theological studies with a clear sense of purpose and mission. A friend of mine once interacted with me about my own sense of calling. He first asks what I am called to do. I said I wanted to be trained and then return to the marketplace, and to live out my faith wherever God has called me to work in. He then continued with the question: "How sure are you?" I replied with a pretty strong sense of conviction. That is history. Here lies the problem. We have become too caught up in the search for the "specific call" of our lives, that we downplay the "general call" God has given us. Many of us know the general call but chooses not to emphasize them. Many of us do not know the specific call, and chooses to fret our lives over it.

Are we lost because we focus too much on the unknown, that we forget about the known?

A) Beyond Simply "God-and-I" Against the World

After several years, it is a common feeling among many of my classmates, that our initial sense of calling and purpose seem a little different from our original understanding. Perhaps, it is because we have become more aware that life is more than 2-dimensions, way beyond just "God and I." Perhaps, we have been exposed to a world that is more complicated than what we have originally thought. Perhaps, we have grown to the point that God's calling is not to be straitjacketed into an individual "What's in it for me?" but what is our role in the Kingdom of God. Perhaps, there are more important questions like:
  • What kind of person are you calling me to be?
  • How best can I bless the community I am presently in?
  • Who are the people that you have placed in my heart?
  • What are the gifts and strengths I have? What are the present needs? When is the best timing?
These questions and many more form the pieces of a big jigsaw puzzle of life.  Calling is much bigger in terms of vocational choices, whether in the laity or as a clergy, whether in the secular marketplace, or the spiritual houses of worship. Calling is more than a seven-letter word to analyze and to study. It is a single word focused on asking this basic question: "How is God glorified in this calling of mine, in a community of God, for a clear purpose for God?" If we concentrate too much on our specific call for God, we get sucked into a "God-and-I" mentality that puts the self above the community.

POINT: Calling is bigger than a God-and-I against the world relationship. It involves a community.

B) Beyond Blame

What is calling? It is a big topic. In fact, whole courses have been organized to deal with this one word. For this week, I want to spend some time to reflect on some aspects of calling, in particular, what we are doing with what we know, as we search for what we are yet to know? One of the worst feelings any theological graduate can feel is described by Ben Campbell Johnson as follows:

"We feel like we've been prepared to pastor churches that no longer exist." (Ben Campbell Johnson, Hearing God's Call, Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2002, x)
Like a movie scene where lovers run past each other on a beach, churches and seminaries seem to miss each other in matching graduates to jobs. This sentiment is an indictment on churches that have been supporting seminaries for ministry needs. It is also an embarrassment for theological institutions that have not kept up with the needs of the modern church. It frustrates graduates who have entered expensive theological education with high hopes, only to see that reality has to do with the lower octaves of ordinariness instead of high pitches of ministry. If we go on a witch-hunt mode, I guess all parties will have to shoulder some responsibility. If only they have talked and interacted regularly. I suppose there is one good thing to learn from it all. We need to be constantly listening to one another, and to God.  We need a humble heart to learn from one another. If we get so caught up in the "specific call" of our lives, we will tend to hear God from human perspectives rather than God's perspective. In fact, our obedience to the general call of God, is a fair indication of our readiness to obey the specific call when it comes.

POINT: Hearing God's Call Needs Humble Ears and Willing Hearts.

C) Beyond the Quest for Certainty

There are many biblical examples of how people are called in the Old Testament. Abraham was called to leave Ur to go to a place that the LORD will show him (Gen 12:1). Hosea was called to marry a prostitute. Isaiah was called when he responded to God's holiness (Isaiah 6). In all of these examples, at least three things need to happen. First, there is a call. Second, there is a hearing. Third, there is an obedience.

Abraham is called straightaway in Genesis 12:1 to leave his country. Often heralded as a man of faith, the significance in Abraham's response is in his response to God in faith. God had not shown him exactly where to go. God leaves his promise very much in the future tense. "Go to the land I will show you." In contrast, some of us want to know for sure where or what we do, before we take the plunge. Not Abraham. God speaks. Abraham hears. Abraham obeys. Is there anything more complicated than this?

Alas! Our modern world of choices have complicated our sense of calling. We ask all kinds of questions. We agonize over which parish to choose. We crack our minds to distill what is God's call amid the mass of information and choices. Our sense of calling gets mixed up by the many questions, where firm answers are few.  Perhaps, the reason why many people are unable to discern their calling is that they ask all kinds of questions from a lack of focus. After all, a double-minded person will not get a single answer. He gets all kinds of possible answers. It takes a laser-sharp question to unleash a single-minded focus on God's call. It boils down to the question of discipleship. How deep our desire to hear and to obey God's call, is embedded in how deep is our readiness to follow Christ all the way. Beyond the quest for certainty, we must deal with the question of how much we desire Christ in the first place. That is our general call.

POINT: Our call is to Christ. Period.

D) Begin With What We Do Know

When we read about the certainty of these biblical patriarchs and prophets, sometimes, we wish that we can be as sure as them, that we can be absolutely certain that God has called me to do this or to do that. Such a desire is common. Once I asked a group of Christians about how many will obey, if they are sure God has called them. Many hands went up. For many people, it is not a question of whether we are willing to obey or not. It is a question of understanding calling altogether. What is a calling? How do I know I am called? Often times, this question is not something to be discerned alone. It is a communal activity.

My readers, we do not need to be frustrated when we are not exactly sure about what we are called to do. The process takes time. In such a situation, what is most telling about our Christian life, is in our attitude. In wanting to find out the mysteries of God's calling, what are we doing about the CERTAINTIES of God's Word. Mark Twain writes about the Bible,

"It ain't those parts of the Bible that I can't understand that bother me, it is the parts that I do understand." (Mark Twain)

Here is my belief. We need to adopt the attitude of Abraham who was called to leave, and to believe that God will show him where to go. What is needed is the readiness to obey. Most people believe that God's calling is in the Bible. If that is the case, what is needed more is that readiness to obey. Unfortunately, many people are mining the Bible for more Bible knowledge and spiritual information, instead of living out biblical wisdom and cultivating spiritual formation. Begin with what we do know, and trust God to show us the way ahead of us. 

Like the young Samuel, he does not know that the voice he has heard is a call from God. He needed someone like Eli to guide and to show him the way. Instead of giving the young Samuel loads of advice, Eli simply asks Samuel to be ready for the next time he hears the same voice. "Speak LORD, for your servant hears." (1 Samuel 3:10) Samuel is sure about the call, but not sure about the rest. All he needs to do is to listen.

Abraham is not sure about the destination, but he is sure about the call of God to leave. He obeys. Isaiah is sure about the vision of God's holiness. What he is not sure is the exact details of God's call, what to do and where to go. His willing heart to obey matches the call of God. This is what we need. We cannot be trapped in an endless circle of seeking God's call in passivity. We need what I call an active waiting. Active waiting is in obeying the general call of God, and wait for the specific call to show up. Active waiting is in applying the first two stages together.
  1. Has God called?
  2. Am I hearing?
Concentrating our efforts on the first question can dangerously tempt us toward questioning God irreverently. It shifts the blame toward God. It frees us from any responsibility to do anything in the first place. Moving to the second question is probably the more important question. Perhaps, when we are lost about our own sense of calling, we need to honestly ask ourselves about question #2.

From my reading of Paul's introduction to the Romans, Paul is certain that he is called to be a disciple of Christ. He begins with what he already knows. We too can do the same. Read in this light, our calling is not very different from Paul's initial calling. It is in his obedience to this initial calling that has made all the difference.

Is that not the same as the rest of us who call ourselves followers of Jesus? Set apart for the gospel of Christ. Is that not similar to our own sense of calling? One helpful way to understand calling is in terms of a general or specific call. The general call is for us to honour God, to lift Jesus higher everywhere we go, and to obey the prompting of the Spirit in all circumstances. We are called to follow Jesus all the way. We are called to be the holy people of God. Unfortunately, many people are stuck with the second question. This has led to the unfortunate case of one forgetting the general call in the quest for the specific call. More often than not, the specific call is clarified as we all pursue the general call well.  Here is what I suggest. As long as we are focused on obeying Christ, whether it is a general or specific call, whether it is managing a huge organization, or making coffee as a servant, whether it is a high profile role, or a lowly unseen role, our goal is in glorifying Christ. When this happens, something special happens inside us.
  • "Where am I called to serve?" BECOMES "Lord, help me be faithful where I am now, and be ready to serve you in another place when you call."
  • "What role am I called to serve in?"  BECOMES "Lord, help me not to be distracted by what role I play, but to serve in that role with all my heart."
  • "Who am I called to be?" BECOMES "Lord, help me be pure and holy in your sight, to be God-pleasers more than man-pleasers." 
Many of us are not as Christ-focused as we need to be. As we get caught up more and more with the quest for our specific call, we unwittingly lose our grip on our general call more and more. Focus on the clear parts of Scripture, and trust God to show us the rest in due time. When the time comes for God to reveal his specific call for us, our practice in the general call will have prepared us in heart, in mind, and in spirit. When that happens, hearing God's call is a no-brainer.

THOUGHT: "Men compare themselves with men, and readily with the worst, and flatter themselves with that comparative betterness. This is not the way to see spots, to look into the muddy streams of profane men's lives; but look into the clear fountain of the Word, and there we may both discern and wash them; and consider the infinite holiness of God, and this will humble us to the dust." (Robert Leighton)


Copyright by SabbathWalk. This devotional is sent to you free of charge. If you feel blessed or ministered to by SabbathWalk weekly devotionals, feel free to forward to friends, or to invite them to subscribe online at . You can also send me an email at for comments or enquiries. Note that views expressed are personal opinions of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of any organization.

Friday, February 15, 2013

A Mark of a Leader

SCRIPTURE: Hebrews 12:2-3
Written by: Dr Conrade Yap
Date: 15 February 2013

"Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart." (Heb 12:2-3)
Pope announces resignation on Feb 10th, 2013
Knowing when to take up leadership, when to hang on to the role, and when to step down are critical marks of a leader. This is exactly what happened this week at the Vatican. On February 10th, 2013, the leader of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Benedict XVI announced that he will be stepping down as Pope from February 28th, 2013. Some applauded the decision, saying that it is high time due to the perceived incompetence or the recent scandals affecting the Roman Catholic Church. Others claimed shock and disbelief, seeing the resignation as something untypical, as there had never been one resignation for nearly 600 years. While the Pope cited "poor health" and "age" as his primary reasons, many speculators put forth other kinds of reasons. Whether it was the scandalous revelations of financial misappropriations, or the sexual misconduct of some priests, or unhappy religious stances on human rights or sexual orientation matters, no one really knew what the true reasons are.

From a leadership perspective, it is an admirable move by Pope Benedict XVI. Leadership is not child's play. Leadership of one of the largest flocks in the world comes with a heavy responsibility. Thus, it is not a decision easily taken or made. The Pope has boldly declared that he is physically unfit to carry on. That takes courage. That takes conviction. That speaks volumes about the leadership trait of the leader of the Catholic Church.

A) Stepping Down in Leadership

A leader is one who knows when to take up responsibility, and when to lay it down. Whichever stance it is, the leader will willingly and joyfully take up or let go. This is a mark of a good leader. When a leader hangs on to power, it is never a good sign. When a leader readily relinquish his position so that a younger person is able to take over, it is a sign of maturity, of leadership foresight, and of discipleship. One Professor of Regent-College once said to me that he decided to retire early, so that new blood can be infused into the organization. When I heard that, I was impressed. I thought:
"Now this is a rare leader. He cares more for the organization rather than for his own position. He puts the interest of the college first before his own financial stability."
A mark of a leader is to accept leadership when he recognizes the call, and to decline leadership when he senses with the Holy Spirit that his time is up. It has to do with calling and discernment. This is what Shawn Lovejoy has said:

"We must not quit if we are called. We will quit if we are not." (Shawn Lovejoy, Measure of Our Success, Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2012, p180)

The call to take up leadership is important. The call to let go when the time is up, is equally important. Note the words of Pope Benedict XVI's official letter of resignation.
"After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry. I am well aware that this ministry, due to its essential spiritual nature, must be carried out not only with words and deeds, but no less with prayer and suffering. However, in today’s world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith, in order to govern the bark of Saint Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months, has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me." (Letter of Feb 10th, 2013)
B) Stepping Down in Shame

In evangelical circles, we have seen many leaders who have resigned for all the wrong reasons. There are those who were forced to step down due to some financial irregularities. There are others like Ted Haggard, Jim Bakker, Jimmy Swaggart, Eddie Long, and a long list of others forced to relinquish their posts due to sexual misconduct when in office. There are also leaders who ran away with their secretaries, leaving their congregations devastated without a shepherd, without any adequate explanation, and without proper accountability. Such things not only embarrass the organizations they represent. They tarnish the image of the Church of Jesus Christ. Then, there are those who hang on to power thinking that there is no one else capable enough to do the job they are doing. Is God really that stingy in providing capable leaders? Are these organizations so pathetic that they fail to find even a single person bold enough to take over leadership to bring the organization to a new level?

I believe it is important for any organization to have leaders who are called. It is also important for called leaders to take courage in responding to the call. Every generation will have their sets of challenges. While old leaders may have fought the battles of yesterday, by hanging on to power, they can potentially superimpose the problems of the past generation onto the reality of the present generation. They can discourage younger leaders from coming into the leadership fold. It is like a leader of the 20th Century, thinking to himself that the 21st Century is full of problems similar to the 20th Century. An example is that of a certain Bible Church movement that has fought valiantly and gallantly against liberal theology in the 60s. They have strong evidence that liberal theologians of the 60s had corrupted the Word of God, misrepresented Christ, and had led the Church astray. So they fought, and fought, and fought.

Fast forward to the 2013. They are still fighting the old battles in a new era.

Sadly, some of these leaders are still around pulling their weight on the younger leaders. They are still fighters against liberal theology. Unfortunately, they have superimposed their fear of liberal theology in the 60s onto a new era where the greater threat is not liberal theology but spiritual complacency and spiritual lethargy. A new generation requires new leaders. The old leaders need to guide the younger leaders. The Church must refocus with each new generation and to discern the call of God together.

C) Stepping Down in Faith

Obedience is key in leadership. There is no greater example than Jesus who willingly leaves his celestial throne, to come to lowly earth, and dwells among us. After a very powerful 3-years of ministry, he sends out his disciples with the Great Commission, as he goes down in history as the only sinless man on earth, unfairly arrested, unjustly humiliated, unceremoniously crucified, and undeservedly killed. He steps down for the sake of obeying his Heavenly Father. He steps down, for the sake of letting the Holy Spirit unleash his power and might. He steps down, for the sake of showing the way, that it is more important to obey God, than to hang on to power. He steps down so that his disciples can take over the mission of the Church. Even spiritual power. In stepping down, he has shown us the way of leadership: Step up when called, and step down when needed.

Are you a leader? If you are, pray for God's wisdom to lead well during your appointed season of leadership. Are you a disciple? Do your best to contribute your skills and your gifts. Are you ready to serve? Use your creativity widely. Are you leading now? Exercise your authority sparingly. Serve the people humbly, knowing that the God who gives you that power and authority, has every right to take away the same power and authority at any time.

D) Stepping Up to Create New Paths

Is it time for you to leave? Pray and seek God constantly. Is it time for you to hang on? Pray and ask God how long. Is it time to move on? Pray and ask God to grant you boldness when the time comes. A leader is one who is able to recognize his limits and be bold enough to trust God that God will surely raise up people to take one's place. Blessed is the leader who is able to pray:

"Lord, I am not worthy. I am here only because of your grace. I am powerless when I depend on my own strength. All power and authority comes from you. All I have now is a privilege. I acknowledge that whatever position and power I have right now, is only for a limited time. Show me the way. Help me see whether I should take up greater responsibility, to continue faithfully in my existing role, or to lay down my position when I sense you have called someone else to take over."

This is a mark of a leader. One who knows when to take up, when to hang on, when to let go, and when to step down. For the sake of the community. For the sake of the Church. For the sake of Christ. Blessed is the community that has people full of such them.

THOUGHT: "The final test of a leader is that he leaves behind him in other men the conviction and the will to carry on." (Walter Lippmann)


Copyright by SabbathWalk. This devotional is sent to you free of charge. If you feel blessed or ministered to by SabbathWalk weekly devotionals, feel free to forward to friends, or to invite them to subscribe online at . You can also send me an email at for comments or enquiries. Note that views expressed are personal opinions of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of any organization.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Love Your Server - Tip Well

SCRIPTURE: 2 Corinthians 9:7
Written by: Dr Conrade Yap
Date: 8 February 2013

"Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver." (2 Cor 9:7)
Last week, at an Applebees Restaurant in St Louis, a pastor with a party of 7 people ate and left without leaving a tip. It was an unhappy reaction to the automatic 18% gratuity slapped on all groups numbering 6 or more people. What made it worse was the comments written on it.

"I give God 10% Why do you get 18" and signed by name with a clear "Pastor" designation besides it.

Upset, another waitress snapped a photo of the receipt and posted it online. The pastor got embarrassed. One waitress got fired. The "Christian" name got slammed. The media got wind of this and soon, people were up in arms against the pastor's action and the restaurant's reaction. Questions continue to be asked.
  • Why did the pastor use God's Name in venting out her disagreement over the tipping amount?
  • Why did the restaurant management fire the worker instead of giving her a second chance?
  • Should not the restaurant be more sympathetic to the worker, and see the bigger picture, that the posting is done out of a frustration and feeling of injustice done?
  • Why the big furor over this incident?
  • If there is privacy concerns, isn't any giving ought to be in secret in the first place?

A) Poor Testimony / Bad Theology

The episode has garnered lots of responses on the Internet. Just do a search and you will see lots of material on it, mostly negative.  In a culture already flushed with negative images of the church, Christians, and evangelicals, the news jabs the dagger of negative perceptions a few inches deeper into the image of the Church.  One particular post is particularly disturbing. In "Why are Christians Such Bad Tippers?" Karen Swallow Prior makes a case for at least 15% tip amount as a way to love our neighbour. In that article, Christians apparently have a bad reputation. Sunday lunch times are times that restaurant servers dread. After church services, the Christians come in big groups, hog big tables, demand lots of attention, and at the end of it all, tip poorly. In short, who wants to work so hard at a frenetic pace, and at the end of it all, receive a poor tip. Worse, if the tip is too small, servers may even need to dig into their own pockets to fill up the common tip pool for the rest of the staff! What is most troubling is what Prior says, "bad theology."

I agree. When Christians separate their own lifestyles according to the sacred-secular distinctions, they are practicing Gnosticism. In a nutshell, Gnosticism is a belief that essentially says the sacred is good and the secular is bad. The physical is evil and the spirit is good. The body is bad while the soul is good. Likewise, they apply this Gnostic influence into their giving. Giving to God is good, and giving to others is bad. This explains in a big way why the St Louis pastor writes, "I give God 10% Why do you get 18."

Learning: Poor theology leads to poor living.

B) Flawed Compensation System

Personally, I do not like the whole idea of tipping. I have lived in countries where tipping is generally forbidden, and if need be, a service charge be added to the whole bill. While it is taking away the decision making away from the customer, it essentially pays for the restaurant overheads. For me, it is far easier and transparent to simply pay for what we eat, assured that the servers, the waiters, the chefs, and all other restaurant staff already have their basic pay met by the restaurant management. Unfortunately, customers bear the brunt of the costs.

In North America, it is a different story. Tipping is a major part of eating out. Many visitors are quite unaware and misinformed about tipping altogether. Before even talking about how much they should tip, they cannot even understand why they must tip in the first place! It takes a while to understand the tipping culture. During my first visit to America many years ago, my friends constantly remind me to tip adequately or never go back to that restaurant. I will be "blacklisted," they say, meaning that they can either deny me service next time, or promise me nasty treatment if I do go back. 

For a small group, the tip column is usually left blank on the receipt so that the customer can decide how much to give. For larger groups, usually 6 or more, a standard tip rate will be applied automatically. It is this automatic insertion that irks many people, especially those who like the freedom to decide how much to give or not to give. Sometimes, arguments can happen. Only after living in North America, I get to appreciate how important tipping is to restaurant staff. When customers wield their miserly pen over the tipping line, the servers and the restaurant staff bear the brunt.

Learning: Blame the System but Don't Penalize People.

C) How Much Tip is Enough?

I asked a friend who works in a local restaurant, and she says that the minimum tip in Vancouver is 10%. Anything less will be bad for staff. A good tip will be 20%. I understand too from another restaurant insider, that sometimes servers are bullied by the kitchen staff if the tip amount is too low. Suppose the acceptable tip is 10%. If a customer leaves only a 5% tip, the server will be forced to cough up the other 5% for the common pool. For large groups with a large bill, this can be pretty substantial.

It is altogether a terrible business model. Why must restaurants push all the responsibility to the paying customer? Why must it be "industry practice" to have restaurant management not pay their own staff well enough? Why must the tipping system be so essential to the basic survival of restaurant workers? Alas, it is a no-win situation. 

If the restaurants pay all their staff well, and remove the reliance of staff on the gratuity component, the menu prices of the food will rise. The number of customers come down, and soon the restaurant will need to lay off staff. That's not good.

If the restaurant pay their staff at the minimum wage, and makes them depend heavily on tipping, the staff becomes dependent on the wide range of customer tipping amounts. Good tippers help them stay afloat. Bad tippers sink them, financially and emotionally. That's not good.

For Christians who come in droves, make big demands on the serving staff, and then leave behind a bad tip, they create a bad name not just for themselves, but also the Church and the name of Christianity at large. That's also not good.

So how much is enough?

I struggle with this when I was a student. I stuck to a maximum of 10%. Sometimes, when I rounded up the total, it fell to about 9%. I justified myself as a 'poor' student. Over the years, as I understand the tipping system, my tipping has risen to about 12-18%, regardless of how I have been served. Sometimes, we think that tipping is a way to recognize the quality of service.

I beg to differ. We tip not on the basis of how well we are served. We tip on the basis of honouring God, by loving our server. No one likes to be shortchanged. We all should be responsible citizens and neighbours to honour hard work, thrift, and fair treatment of people. In fact, when Christians tip well, it reflects the grace that we have received from God. For if God has forgiven us in the amount of billions of dollars, why can't we extend the grace to others, in the form of a few dollars more?

Learning: Tipping is an act of Grace.

D) Some Tips on Tipping

I like to use the acronym GRACE as a way to represent the principle of our giving as Christians.

G = God be Honoured in our Giving

Scriptures call us to honour God in all things. Whatever we do, we do it in the name of Christ, through thanksgiving to God for what He had done in our lives (Col 3:17). Our act of giving must reflect the receiving of much grace and goodness from God. Be consistent in our honouring God. Do not make a distinction between our lives inside and outside the Church. When we want to honour God, we honour God everywhere we go, not just inside the Church. 

R = Regardless of Service Quality 

When we tip, we must let it be part of our efforts to respect our servers. They too have rent to pay, bills to deal with, families to feed. They are just doing their jobs. They are sandwiched between  a cruel cost-cutting management and a budget conscious customer. Tip in a manner that shows respect to the servers, as if they are our neighbours. Simply put, just because they do not serve up to our personal standards, does not mean we to not tip. You do not have to tip high. Tip respectably. Tip in a manner that demonstrates the grace we have received from God.

A = Ask If Unsure

This is particularly important if we travel to another state or province where the tipping rates are different. The rule of thumb is easy. If unsure, just ask the server and the server can easily give an average. I've asked before, and the general response is relief and frank honesty about what is fair. In fact, when we ask, we put the server at ease, and they will appreciate being treated well as a human person.

C = Cheerful Giving 

Here is where theology is important. We need to be consistent in our giving. Loving God more does not mean we must love people less. Love God. Love people. For if we truly love God, we will know that God loves people as much. Likewise, when we claim to treat God well, and cheerfully give to God, why should we treat our fellow humans any different? 

E = Exceptional Testimony

Every time Christians enter a restaurant, the general perception is that they tip poorly and are bad testimonies. Maybe, this episode is an opportunity to reverse the trend. Christians can be a powerful influence on the rest of society. Christians can buck the trend. They can do something good out of something that is perceived bad. I believe there is a chance. When more Christians are educated, and more of them understand the tipping system, and how important it is to be part of our practicing of good theology, there is a great chance for an exceptional testimony.

One last thing. I am sure there will still be questions about tipping. At the same time, some people may still continue to struggle with the whole tipping system. Here is my advice. If you want to eat out, for the sake of Christ, tip well. If you do not want to tip well, do not eat out. When we tip well, it reflects a big heart.

THOUGHT: "How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of the weak and strong. Because someday in your life you will have been all of these." (George Washington Carver)


Copyright by SabbathWalk. This devotional is sent to you free of charge. If you feel blessed or ministered to by SabbathWalk weekly devotionals, feel free to forward to friends, or to invite them to subscribe online at . You can also send me an email at for comments or enquiries. Note that views expressed are personal opinions of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of any organization.