Would you walk away from a guaranteed salary of $12 million?
Kansas City Royals pitcher Gil Meche did – all because he thought he wouldn’t be ready to play in 2011.
Plagued by chronic shoulder problems, the 31-year-old righthander’s status for the upcoming season was a question mark – but his salary was not. Under the terms of a five-year deal, Meche had one year remaining on his contract. Yet, Meche decided to retire for no other reason than he thought it was the right thing to do.
“I didn’t want to go try it again for another season and be the guy making $12 million doing absolutely nothing to help their team,” Meche said. “Yeah, a lot of people might think I’m crazy for not trying to play and making this amount of money. I don’t think I’m ever going to regret it. My first reaction is I’m not a guy who’s going to sit here and play baseball for the money. I know you hear a lot of athletes say, ‘It’s not for the money, it’s not for the money.’ Actually, it wasn’t.”
Meche’s decision surprised a lot of people, if only because it runs contrary to the norm. Most of us can’t even imagine earning $12 million a year, let alone walking away from a guaranteed paycheck of that amount.
Could you? Would you?
I am reminded of Jesus’ parable of the workers in the vineyard. When those who arrived the earliest complained they were receiving the same pay as those who did a fraction of the labor, the boss responded bluntly:
‘I am not being unfair to you, friend,’ he said. ‘Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? Take your pay and go. I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you. Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?’ (Matthew 20:13-15).
Jesus is trying to make a fundamental point, and it has nothing to do with wages. Instead, He’s reminding us that the gift of His incredible salvation is equal and open to all. It’s not about how much work we do – or what time of the day we arrive to do it. The rewards associated with a conversion to Christ are as equally available to a seven-year-old boy as to a seventy-year-old man.