“In the same way, let your light shine before others , so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). Today I want offer some applications for applying this familiar verse in the context of a restaurant, whether that be McDonald’s or the fine dining experience that is Chili’s. The truth is that sometimes praying before a meal at a restaurant is the only thing we do or say to shine our light while eating out. Here are some other suggestions.
1) Ask your waiter/waitress how you can pray for him/her – I picked this up from a friend of mine in college. You’re going to be praying for your food, so purpose to pray for your waiter at the same time using a prayer request he has personalized for you. It communicates care and concern, and asking this question may open up the door for deeper, gospel-focused conversation.
2) Try to keep the noise level down – I know for some families like mine this will be like asking howler monkeys to play the quiet game, but let’s remember that we don’t own the restaurant and there will be other people around us trying to eat and have conversations.
3) Parents, teach Philippians 2:3 – I certainly don’t expect your children to have the discipline of an army regiment whenever you go to a restaurant, but as parents we should be quick to address their lack of consideration for others while eating. A restaurant is good environment to teach Philippians 2:3, “…in humility count others more significant than yourselves”. Our children need to know that this means more than not biting the other kids in Sunday school. Also remember that people recognize good parenting even if your kids are misbehaving.
4) Don’t be demanding – I have met Christians who expect their dining experience to be exemplary wherever they go, and if it isn’t they start getting snippy with the people who work there. Remember, you don’t know all the details of why a waiter hasn’t refilled your drink as frequently as you’d like. My father taught me how to be patient and considerate with waiters by using the simple phrase “Whenever you get time”, as in “Can I get some more Dr. Pepper… whenever you get time”.
5) Clean up your mess – After you get done with your meal, if you’re family is like mine, then your eating area looks like multiple people dropped their food on the ground and then Riverdanced all over it. Get down on the floor and clean up your mess. I have received some astounded reactions from restaurant workers when I do this. If you’re at a restaurant where you don’t throw away your own trash, then stack up all the plates and collect the trash into one area to make it easier on the people bussing the tables.
6) Leave a good tip – If you’re going to shine your light at a restaurant then don’t break out the tip calculator to see how little you can leave without seeming cheap. View this as an opportunity to bless your waiter with more than he earned, and remember there’s a good chance he saw you praying before your meal.