In 2005, David Choe was a young artist trying to build his fledgling business in the San Francisco, California area. The son of Korean immigrants, he grew up in Los Angeles living on welfare after his parents’ business burned the ground during the 1992 L.A. riots (I was there for the riots as well—but that’s a story for another day).
In the days of the dotcom bubble, Choe moved to San Francisco and began shopping his talents as an avant-garde graffiti artist. Fledgling start-ups hired him to paint their walls and hallways according to his unique perspective.
One fledgling business hired him and gave him an offer: paint a series of murals and receive $2,000 in payment or 3.77 million shares in stock options. Wisely, he chose the stock options.
That fledgling business was FaceBook. When the company begins selling shares on the stock market in a few short months, the $53 a share asking price will net him a cool $196 million.
To put this into perspective, the country of Qatar just purchased the most expensive painting ever—Cezanne’s Card Players—for $250 million. The previous record was a Jackson Pollack painting that sold for $140 million. A relatively little-known artist now boasts second place for most expensive artwork in world history!
We all face choices of $2,000 or $200 million
My colleague and friend Eugene Scott has declared this the year of living spiritually. In the spirit of this theme, I’d like to examine David Choe’s choice.
All too often, I mortgage the future for the present. Like Esau, I’m tempted to sell my birthright for a pot of lentil stew (see Genesis 25:27-34). I opt for the quick $2,000 rather than wait for the $200 million.
Please understand, my intent is not to deify David Choe. Google the artist’s name and you’ll discover that he’s far from perfect. But it takes a measure of character to resist the easy money in exchange for a bigger payout in the future.
The little “character” choices we make today will make a difference in our future. The payout may not make us millionaires, but they will make us rich in other ways.
White lies, addictive behaviors, and “little” indiscretions offer the easy money. But over a lifetime, character always pays.
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9
Michael co-pastors The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, Colorado with Eugene Scott. He can’t even draw stick figures.