He has a kind, unassuming manner and I was sure that he would have godly wisdom and encouragement for aspiring businessmen and businesswomen. I didn’t realize that he is The CEO and President of one of the country’s leading independent fuel company which employs at least five hundred in its head office alone. The humility in his position bespeaks his personal relationship with the One who owns it all. Here is an inspiring chat with Glenn L. Yu:
BUTTERFLYINTHESPRING (BITS): How did you come to know the Lord?
GLENN L. YU (GLY): There was a Christian businessman who was going to give a message in church. Here was a person who was successful in the eyes of the world and I wanted to hear what he had to say. I was drawn to listen to him. After his message, he asked, “Do you want to surrender your life to the Lord?” I found myself raising my hand. I accepted Jesus Christ into my heart.
Before that point, God used circumstances in my life. I was fortunate to know what my gift was. Even as a child, it was clear to me that my gift was in being an entrepreneur. I used my gifts to further my own selfish wants. I lived in the fast lane. I told people I wanted to be a billionaire before the age of 30. I started a business with some of my classmates shortly after I graduated from college. I traveled, going business class, living the high life.
My first encounter with death was in 1998 when I brought Jackie [his wife] home after a movie premiere. When we got down from the car, we heard gun shots. Before we knew it, we were face-flat on the ground and the guy was pointing a gun to my head. My whole life flashed through my mind and I wondered, “Is that all there is? You live up to a certain age and that’s it?” We begged for our lives. Before we knew it, the guy was gone. My knees were shaking, I couldn’t drive. I called home and asked someone to pick me up. I was so scared.
This incident happened in the midst of the Asian financial crisis. We were into serious financial trouble and practically lost everything. I had to sell the business that my friends and I put up. It was during this time that we were struggling financially that my mother got into an accident at home in 2001. She was in the ICU from July to October. The Lord took away the sources of my security. When that happened. I found myself struggling again with the question, “Is there more to life than this?” and not getting any satisfactory answers until I heard this businessman share about his life and how having a personal relationship with Jesus transformed him and how that brought meaning and purpose to his life.
I recognized that there really is more to life than what I had thought. Reflecting on my life before I discovered the Lord and now, I’m so thankful that the Lord gave me that opportunity. Sometimes I’m a stubborn person… It took several life-changing events before I came to the realization that I needed Jesus in my life.
BITS: Your near-death experience, the financial crisis, and then your mom’s accident… God used those to prepare your heart…
BITS: Were you very close to your mom?
BITS: Then you surrendered your life to the Lord through the businessman… Are you willing to name him?
GLY: Dr. Andrew Liuson. He’s my spiritual father.
BITS: What things did you hear about Dr. Liuson that made you want to listen to him?
GLY: I am naturally drawn to other businesspeople. He was different from most— if not all— of the businesspeople I had met. What stuck in my mind is that in all of their buildings, it says, “In God We Trust.” In my mind was, “Is God really trustworthy?” Why trust in God for the answer to the question, “Is there more to life than this?”
BITS: Does he continue to mentor you?
GLY: Yes, it’s still ongoing. We see each other once a month.
BITS: What is a mentoring conversation like?
GLY: How my business is doing… what he’s learning, the things I’ve learned, how the Lord has been moving in his life…and in my life.
BITS: Are you now a mentor to some businessmen?
GLY: Yes, to other younger businesspeople… about seven or eight.
BITS: To them, you must be their Andrew Liuson! [GLY smiles.] How did your life change after you surrendered your life to the Lord?
GLY: A verse that comes to mind is Psalm 24:1 The earth is the Lord’s and all things in it. That was foundational for me to recognize that the Lord owns all including the business. It’s his. I’m a steward. That influenced my thinking about my purpose now. God answered my question, “Is there more to life than this?” He gave me the perspective: “The Lord put you here, you are able to influence people. You’re a steward of the resources I’ve given to you”, the command in Genesis 2—– the stewardship mandate. In reality, I don’t own anything. My job is to be faithful to him. In Matthew 28:18-20, The Great Commission, it’s really a platform for me to be able to share Christ in my circle of influence.
BITS: How does this influence your ways as an employer?
GLY: We make available a Friday Singles devotion, a Monday morning devotion. We have chaplains in our office. My work is my ministry, my mission field. Oftentimes, the only bible people get to read is how I live my life. I also write a weekly blog that I write for employees. There, I’m able to share. That’s my opportunity when they ask, “Why are you different?” I just tell them the Lord changed my life and it’s a catalyst for me to share Christ with them.
BITS: The Psalm 24 verse, in your faith timeline, when did you own it?
GLY: After I had accepted the Lord. The first thing was for me to recognize I need a Savior. After having a personal relationship with Jesus, the next thing was for me to find out what is the purpose of work, of business. The Lord taught me through His word that work is a form of worship. The root word of “work” and “worship” in Hebrew is the same, Avoda. When we read, “Six days you shall work and on the seventh you shall rest,” oftentimes, at least for me, the focus is on the seventh, it’s the Sabbath. We forget the “Six days we shall work.” Now, our work is important to God because our God is One who works. The work of creation tells us that our God works.
BITS: How does your faith apply to your work?
GLY: The world view is that employers are only responsible for workers financially. As long as you provide a salary, you meet your obligation.. Our view as Christians is holistic: that we are responsible for them not just financially but also physically, emotionally, spiritually because these are people that we have been given responsibility over to steward.
The only thing we can bring with us to heaven are relationships and people. Everything else gets left behind. To view it as an opportunity to be responsible for people holistically, we have the opportunity to reflect God’s plan, purpose in terms of what work should be. Work is not a meaningless activity. If you ask a person why he works, some would say, “so that there will be food on the table.” That’s important. But there’s more to work than that. What you want is when someone goes to work, it’s meaningful for that person. You recognize he’s doing something valuable, not just earning a living.
BITS: What do you think are hindrances for some businessmen coming to the Lord?
GLY: If life is good, there’s no incentive for them if they have no perceived need for God. But when you get to the top and realize there’s nothing there, then you will start looking for answers. Sometimes they’re in the middle, pursuing because they think there’s value in reaching their goal.
BITS: Do you have an encouragement for businessmen who may be trying to look for answers?
GLY: A good ambition would be seeking God’s kingdom first.
BITS: The kingdom-seeking philosophy, do you think that will inhibit profit and benefits?
GLY: I like this quote from Barack Obama. “Focusing your life solely on making a buck shows a poverty of ambition. It asks too little of yourself.”
BITS: Ang lalim naman no’n, Kuya, pwede pakitranslate sa English? That’s so profound, Big Brother, can you please say it in English?
GLY: Mababaw na ambisyon ang pera. (Money is a shallow ambition). Business people will recognize that. At the end of the day, those who are successful will know it is not because they want to make money but it’s because they see a need that needs to be met and there’s value in what they do; as a result, the profit comes because there is value in their undertaking. I think that’s the intent of the Lord that there be value in what we do as business people. From that perspective, profit is a consequence of knowing that your life is more than just making a profit. At the same time, if you don’t make a profit, you can’t sustain it. Maybe that could be telling you that this is not your area of strength and you are not glorifying the Lord there.
BITS: If you want to do business biblically, you’re seeking to sustain your business profitably but secondarily to the kingdom… Do you sometimes feel persecuted for your faith?
GLY: I don’t take it personally. I’m just being faithful. I’m not responsible for someone to get to know the Lord. That’s the Lord’s job. My job is just to be faithful and testify to God’s faithfulness in my life and at the end of the day, it’s God’s work. I just need to be faithful to the One who called me.
Glenn Yu went through some major shakeups. His sense of stability and youth invincibility were thrown off by an in-your-face threat to his life and physical well-being. His mother’s prolonged confinement at the ICU made him see the precarious, uncertain nature of life. He saw that having the gift of entrepreneurship or coming from a comfortable family did not exempt him from external factors such as the Asian financial crisis. What he put his security on were things he could lose.
The promise of God is that in all things including the trials, He will use it for the good of those who love Him. Among the good for Glenn was he realized that he could not put his faith in something that would not last. Unless he was putting his faith in Jesus Christ, he was not secure. His personal relationship with Jesus opened up his eyes to many truths. A recurring word he used was “recognize”. He saw his life from a new perspective, God’s. He saw his Owner, his Boss, his purpose, his stewardship role in the scheme of things. When Glenn put his life under the lordship of Jesus, that meant that not only were Sundays God’s. The six days of work were part of his worship which he submitted to His leadership. Thus the mindset for purposeful employment.
What was the catalyst to this mindset? (God did His share. But here on earth, some-one was called to do his share.) One. One businessman, Dr. Andrew Liuson, who saw the eternal perspective of his own life. And now, Glenn is also one. In what turns out to be a godly chain of mentoring, this new generation of businessmen are becoming instruments of godly transformation. Even as they seek to do excellent work in their businesses including profitability, they do not think merely of the short-lived kingdoms on earth but seek first God’s kingdom in eternity.
Matthew 6:33 But seek first his Kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
I feel like I’m Dr. Liuson’s inspiration grandchild. He inspired Glenn Yu and now Glenn Yu is inspiring me as a businesswoman. Thank You, Lord, for their examples worth following. Please help me not just admire but follow their examples, too.
May God’s favor and immeasurable blessing be upon Glenn, Dr. Liuson, and their contemporaries as businessmen for God. May He expand the borders of their businesses as they seek first to get in God’s business.
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