The Problem with Tipping a Pizza Delivery Person $1,050

The Problem with Tipping a Pizza Delivery Person $1,050 October 18, 2015

This is really heartwarming. I love that this church did this. If someone handed me $1,050 it would make a massive difference and I’d probably have the same reaction.

Honestly? I had the same reaction when a stranger anonymously paid for my new dress shoes recently. It really did send ripples of goodwill out into my life, and that generosity left a mark on my soul.

Here’s my hope, though:

That this church, if it’s not already, extends its teaching of generosity to a teaching of justice so that pizza delivery drivers aren’t reliant on the fickle generosity of their customers to make ends meet but rather get to work for a sustainable, living wage.

My hope is that the next time the church doesn’t use someone’s poverty as an object lesson for their own emotional payout.

See, the average salary of a pizza delivery driver is between $14,000 and $22,000.

Based on that, this driver received between 5 and 7 percent of a year’s salary that night. There’s no mention of that. Neither is there any mention that this woman represents scores of other minimum wage workers and restaurant servers who desperately deserve better salaries and wages so they don’t need this kind of extraordinarily generous windfall to help their financial situations.

See that’s the problem with the American church. In many churches, outreach stops at this moment of generosity or their variation of it. They rarely take one more step toward justice. This deeply reinforces a kind of charity industrial complex. Holding up these generous tipping videos as an example of living out Jesus’ teachings actually make it a lot harder to do justice in churches because these charitable acts often offer an easy and quick emotional high. Justice work is long, hard, and often thankless.

Look for example at the most recent example of a church in Alaska that tipped a delivery person $1,900. It’s a clear example of the difference between charity and justice.The church actually spoke to the store manager about which employee to send to make sure they could donate to someone in need. He was facing severe financial hardships because of medical bills. Did the church advocate for a raise on his behalf? Write to the corporate offices? Use its cultural power in the community to demand higher minimum wages?

No, because the church actually needed someone in poverty for their object lesson to really hit home.

Is it deeply moving that this church helped this man meet his financial needs due to his medical issues? Without a doubt. Imagine a world where all churches were this generous with their resources.

But now, take your imaginations one step farther.

Imagine a world where churches didn’t have to do this because health care didn’t bankrupt working families because it was understood to be a human right not just a privilege for those who can afford it. Or luck into a $2,000 tip.

It’s generous of a church to give that much money.

It’s just not justice.

So do both. Tip generously. And fight for living wage.


Note: This post was updated with the correct donation amount offered by the church and to include a copycat church’s tip.

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