Just Wondering: Pujols, Greedy Christian?

First, read or skim this.

Every sports fan and his dog is talking about Albert Pujols right now, in light of his extended contract negotiations, potential divorce from the St. Louis Cardinals after the season, and his demand (or his agent’s, possibly) that he become the highest-paid player in the game (a potential contract upwards of $300 million).

An interesting angle is developing for 21st Century Christians, who are increasingly wary of extreme personal wealth in an “age of hunger.” Pujols is a pretty outspoken evangelical and started the Pujols Family Foundation, which supports Down’s syndrome research (Pujols’ adopted daughter has the syndrome). But now, Christian baseball fans are going to have to reconcile Pujols’ genuine religious faith with his outright demand for lots and lots of money.

GetReligion.com’s Mollie Ziegler cites St. Louis Post-Dispatch religion reporter Tim Townsend, who wrote this about Pujols:

The Rev. Darrin Patrick, pastor of The Journey, a church in St. Louis that counts a number of professional athletes as members, said Jesus warned against greed.

“Nobody really confesses to that sin,” Patrick said. “Lust, anxiety — sure. But very few people say, ‘I’m greedy,’ and I absolutely think that (Pujols) should be on guard for that.”

But also this:

The Rev. Scott Lamb, a Baptist pastor, formerly with a church in St. Louis and co-author, with Tim Ellsworth, of a new Pujols biography called “Pujols: More Than a Game” that focuses on the first baseman’s faith, said the contract talks have opened up an interesting debate in Christian circles that goes beyond baseball to the uncomfortable intersection of the New Testament and capitalism. […]

“I reject any idea that a person’s Christianity should cause them to step away from what the market would demand for them,” said Lamb. “Albert will go down in history as one of the great ones — someone who grabbed the money, and gave it away at the same time.”

These two thoughts (shying away from extravagant material gain and intentionally getting rich in order to be generous with it) are not necessarily mutually exclusive. It’s perfectly reasonable to be strongly against the idea of a Christian hoarding the money he makes (regardless of the size of his paycheck, I might add) and still rejoice that a Christian freely gives away most of that income (again, no matter how much that might be — Pujols could give away 95% of his $30 million a year and still have 1.5 million for himself. Also: uh, wow).

It’s a touchy but important question. And there aren’t really easy answers. But Pujols has shown extreme generosity before, even when he was an impoverished nobody seventh-round draft pick from the Dominican Republic. Who’s to say that will suddenly change when he goes from rich to richer (or maybe richest)? As Zeigler says, “Some groups stand to do very well if Pujols lands a major contract.”

Could it be that the best thing for everyone is for Pujols to become the highest-paid baseball player, knowing that he’ll likely give most of it away? Is that a better alternative than, say, Alex Rodriguez making all that money—given that Rodriguez likely won’t give a dime to Christian organizations? Or should we—and Pujols—shun all that money because it gives the wrong impression? Talk to me.


4 thoughts on “Just Wondering: Pujols, Greedy Christian?

  1. Great article Andrew. I think you brought out a great point about the issue being greed or the appearance there of. I would highly caution him to stay away from even that appearance. But I have no problem with him negotiating for a higher pay contract. There is an unhealthy fear of money in Christian circles. There is nothing wrong with being wealthy or having money. And to use your talents to get more money is not evil either. I doubt any Christian could find a true “Biblical” reason against that. Being wealthy just adds more responsibility to how you handle your stuff for the kingdom of God. Let’s hope that his motives are not greedy and that he does not ruin his testimony as a result of the negotiations.

  2. Let’s pray for him that he will guard against greed. Wanting riches is tempting for everyone. Only God’s grace in our lives keeps us from chasing after sin, and that includes greed.

  3. I am proud of Pujols, a Christian, having a testimony of giving/generosity. But demanding the highest salary, one that is obscene by most people’s standards, does leave the impression of greed. What would be wrong with him negotiating for a portion of the money that he “deserves” for his baseball skills being given back to the fans in lower ticket prices? And I mean a literal element of his contract whereby the ticket prices (especially for the higher level seats where middle class and lower income fans sit) are lowered a specified amount which cannot be raised except under contractual stipulations? That way the owner doesn’t get to keep the $$, Pujols doesn’t have the temptation of too much wealth and the questions about greed that may sully his testimony, the fans who need the money are given a break, and the money stays in the game.

  4. Being wealthy is indeed not a crime or sin. It is the love of money that leads to evil. With that said, my question is this: “Why does Pujols want more money?” Even though it is to forward a greater amount to be given away, why does he desire MORE money?” Why not give a greater percentage of the money you already make or have? Christ said that the widow -in Luke 21- who gave donated two copper coins gave more than anyone else because she did not donate leftovers, but rather showed faith by giving the “first fruits.” Furthermore, GOD does not need your money to do a work, HIS will shall be done regardless. We give HIM actually what is HIS money in the first place, as an act of faith. Again the question arises: Why then -if Pujols is indeed a Christian- does he want more money? There was no World Series team-autographed ball in 2011, because it is said that “Pujols demanded too much money.” Regardless of what is actually done with the money, there appears to be a sense of greed connected to all this. The reason I say this is because GOD determines the amount money each of us is to steward. Never in scripture does Christ demand money from people, nor does he ever tell a person “you should be giving more.” If Pujols feels that he is “worth” more than what the Cardinals are offering, he is indeed stepping into dangerous territory; for this becomes an issue of self-worth and arrogance rather than meekness and humility.

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