Ruth Uy helped her husband, Max, an eye doctor, in their optical business which started in the early 70’s. For many years, they had about five branches. It was quite difficult in the beginning managing the many tasks a wife, mother, and businesswoman had to juggle… it was a period of her life that she likened to a “rat race.”
Today, their business has grown to 114 branches nationwide. Ruth shares some of her experiences and the lessons she learned through the years. Sharing our chat with you:
BUTTERFLYINTHESPRING (BITS): How did you begin in your business?
RU: It started from when my husband was still single. When we got married, Christian mentors, advised us to branch out. We did so very slowly and conservatively until the kids grew up. By then, the Lord inspired us to expand.
BITS: What was it like in the beginning?
RU: We were very hands-on with everything… Needed to check on daily sales, check the eyeglasses that haven’t been picked up, the balances, the bank, everything… chop suey [a little of everything mixed in]. then you have to check the kids if they are sleeping… everything, everything…It was like a rat race life. Then we backslid pa [got off track from Christian walk] . Those were horrible years.
At that time, we were already believers but up and down [not steadfast]. In the early ten years of married life, we backslid , we quarrelled… we had different viewpoints. After ten years, God enabled me to be humble enough to admit I’m lost and sad and out of direction, and to reflect on what I am living for.
BITS: That was a breakthrough for you? What happened next?
RU: Yes, I started to grow in my walk with God. Our marriage relationship quieted down. Every time there’s a problem in business, we didn’t blame each other anymore. When we encounter a problem, 99% of the time, we call on the name of the Lord. 1% of the time, the self still comes out [smiles], we still want to do it our own way. But we are growing…
BITS: What encouragement can you give to those in the rat-race-years stage, juggling motherhood, “wifery”, business?
RU: Find time to be with the Lord. Look for the time when everybody’s sleeping and you’re still very awake or the time that you’re fully awake and nobody else is up yet. Look for the time. It is there.
BITS: When you have so much to accomplish, it would seem like finding quiet time to apparently “be quiet and do nothing” is the opposite of what you need to do. How does finding quiet time become a priority?
RU: Doing quiet time doesn’t mean you’re not doing anything. You read the bible, sing, worship the Lord, pour out your heart to the Lord, just being you before God. And listen to what He has to say through His words or through worship music.
BITS: How did you see that help you; you saw that as key to solving the problem?
RU: First, it heals me. There was a lot of pain in my heart. There were a lot of people I could not forgive at that time. Quiet time leads to healing (as I pour my heart out to the Lord and read in His word the need to forgive to be freed from the bondage of pain). It made me humble… so I can be submissive to my husband and be kind to my kids.
BITS: I see, it’s like a continuing process… How does that impact your business?
RU: You would see that the Lord will start to bless you. You start to have the right attitude and mindset aligned with His will. It’s no longer about me, like “I’m good that’s why the business will do good.” Instead, you prioritise Him; you live for Him. The result of that…from blessing me personally, He started to bless my relationship with my husband and then with my kids and then He made people gravitate to our business. He provided our staff that we never knew in ten years we would need so much in the department. They just came in as simple rank and file. Now they are Department Heads. We see how the Lord prepares us for our future needs and that built up our confidence, too.
The business matters started falling into place. When I was not yet back to the Lord (fully committed), the business also was not doing good and at home it was not well. It was always problems. I see the contrast. Now there are still problems but there’s peace. You learn to let go.
BITS: That sounds like everything became aligned and fell into its proper order. When you were in your ten years of still struggling spiritually (to follow God’s ways or your own), how many branches did you have?
RU: Around about five branches. It stayed small.
BITS: When you matured in the Lord, how many branches did you have?
RU: Every year, it began to multiply until today, we now have 114 branches nationwide.
BITS: At this stage, it’s already thriving… way more than thriving!
RU: Yes, by God’s grace. We take it as a ministry already. God brought us to a level wherein we try to minister spiritually to our staff and have bible studies throughout our stores. With God’s help and our pastors, almost half of our stores already have bible studies.
BITS: Why do you desire for your staff to have bible study?
RU: We now consider our business as God’s mission field and we want our staff to be given a chance to hear God’s salvation for them, hoping they accept so we can spend eternity in heaven with them and they would experience peace and joy in their hearts as they learn how to live and how to live for the Lord.
BITS: For those who might have the notion that believers should not seek profit in business or must emphasise on being kind to employees so as not to require excellence at work, what can you share?
RU: First, we have to be excellent for the Lord. Mr. Stephen Roxas, the owner of Citiland, said that we should never be shy to be successful for the Lord. But success will come from the Lord. Once He gives it to you, exalt His name. We try to be excellent for only one reason—to exalt Him. How do we strive to be excellent? Being humble is Number One. I admit I don’t know, I fail, and I’m willing to stand up again… all by God’s grace. For me, that’s the whole practical side of it. Then that’s the way to go, putting God first in our lives.
BITS: Would you have an encouragement for those starting out in business?
RU: Put God first. Even when there are failures, go back to the Lord, He will use it for good.
BITS: How did you see God respond to your putting Him first?
RU: Peace as He promised, strength for the day. I don’t mean that money wise you’re going to be richer but the satisfaction of living for Him, the inner being was strengthened.
BITS: But outwardly, your business was also prospering?
RU: I take that as a bonus from the Lord. It’s from the Lord. If He takes it away, it might be painful but you still recognise that it still all belongs to the Lord. It’s His name at stake.
BITS: Wow that’s freedom and security!
And how’s this for a sweet reward?
Dear Lord, thank You for the lessons Ruth learned in business and life that she is willing to share with grasshoppers like me and my two readers. Her humility and admitted dependence on You despite the obvious prosperity You gave her business-wise are awesome manifestation of a life surrendered to You. That she has learned from many years of experience that the key to her success is the quiet time with You to process her evolving situations is a revelation that Your ways are not always logical or in keeping with the world’s norms but her life shows that they work. Thank You for demonstrating in her life Your promise, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added unto you.” which comes with first and foremost the gift of You, then the added things, then the freedom and security that comes from knowing You, that if and when something is lost or taken away or when something untoward happens, You who are able, You who are holy and good with the heart to bless, who does not leave nor forsake Your children, are there for the journey and You will glorify Your name in Your way and time as consistent with who You say You are in Your Word in Your name amen.