Becoming One’s Own Boss: A Christian’s Journey
Jose, California, USA
January 31, 1998, is one of the
most memorable days of my life that I will never forget. Every time I get a
chance to share my story, I’m reminded of the amazing grace God bestowed on me
and my family.
One day, out of the blue, my boss
asked me if I had ever thought about starting my own business. I had nine years
of marketing experience that would serve me well if I chose to do that. I had
never thought about becoming my own boss because I didn’t believe I would ever
be successful. There is a Chinese saying that goes, “No trickery, no business.”
I just do not have the personality or mindset to be a businessman.
Moreover, I had personally witnessed
a few friends start their own business only to end up losing their savings and
putting their families in dire situations. So I questioned myself over and over
if I could survive on this path before finally making a decision on what I
I had toyed with a few ideas of
what I wanted to do with my career for the rest of my life, and these
considerations became more serious after my boss’s suggestion. I wanted to
spend more time with my elderly parents, who lived in San Jose, so I would have to find a job
there. My wife suggested I study for a computer science degree so that I could
change industries. But I felt too old to be a student and to start something
new all over again.
I really struggled for quite some
time with the idea of starting my own business. It was a major decision and I
really prayed to the Lord and asked for His guidance. After a period of
prayers, I felt great peace in my heart and confidence to give it a try. I
believed God would give me signs if He did not want me to continue down this
It was a major turning point in my
life. I felt like I had lost my career after I quit a successful job that I
enjoyed over nine years. My wife had also given up her dream to be a licensed
pharmacist in New Jersey.
But we had faith that somehow, the Lord would provide.
On January 31, 1998, I moved from New Jersey to California
to start my own business.
A BOSS IN FAVOR WITH GOD: TRUST AND OBEY
Starting up a business takes a lot
of hard work. I still remember walking into my office at 6 am. It felt
even harder to do this on dark winter mornings, when most people were still
asleep. Early mornings were prime business time for me because most of the
suppliers I bought from and the customers I sold to were in earlier time zones.
I thank God for sustaining a sense
of determination in me, which is crucial when a business is only in its initial
stages. However, I had other worries, too. How do I go about marketing my
company? How do I earn the trust of suppliers and clients? Since English is not
my native language, will people even consider doing business with me?
I had my worries, but trusting in
God was all that I could do. If it was His will, I trusted that He would give
me His blessings.
Another challenge I faced was
For the love
of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in
their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. (1 Tim
In the first year of my company, I
had a chance to gain more profit by concealing reduced prices from suppliers.
If I didn’t share this information with my clients, I could earn more money
because my agreement was to share the profit margin with my clients. But if I
didn’t tell them, they would not know or find out.
But I told myself that I needed to
be an honest businessman because I was one of the chosen people of God. I could
make a little more money by not disclosing some information, but doing that
would provoke the wrath of God. So I told my clients that my supplier reduced his
selling price. I knew this would sound foolish to many people, but I believed
God would guide me and bless me if I kept His words.
Left on its own, human desire knows no satisfaction. Owning
one’s business brings with it opportunities to commit different degrees of
fraud so as to maximize profits. A Christian is not spared from such
For example, I could deceivingly
increase the weight of the products I shipped to my customers and charge them
more money. I knew how it could be done if I was greedy and wanted to earn more
money. But I always swept such thoughts out of my mind as quickly as they
appeared. We need to train our minds not to let evil thoughts linger.
Money can divert our hearts away from God’s words. To
overcome such temptations, we need to cultivate our spiritual life daily and
constantly meditate upon God’s words in our mind and prayers.
BUMPS ALONG THE WAY—TRUSTING HIM STILL
Owning a business involves a lot
of risk. I have been cheated a few times by either my suppliers or customers
since I started my business.
I started out being too naïve and
trusting. In my company’s first year, I agreed to the terms of open payment
with a customer in Bolivia
because I thought he was a very trustworthy person. I continued to ship new
products to him even before he paid me for previous shipments.
It turned out that the payments
were uncollectible. By the time I found out that he was a fraud and had closed
bank account, I had lost $110,000. That was all of the savings I had.
This happened about the same time
my beloved mother passed away in a car accident. I loved my mother very much. I
moved my family to California
just to be close to her. With this double blow, I felt like I had fallen into
the bottom of the abyss.
But I had to stand back up.
Instead of regretting the decision to move to California and beating myself up for losing
so much money, I turned to the memories of the precious seven months my family
had with my mother in her final days. I recalled the joy on her face whenever
she was with my children.
It was a difficult period but God
guided me through it. In spite of encountering such difficulties, my mind was
still very peaceful. I did not feel any panic or lose confidence. I could even
see many positive aspects of my decision amid the setbacks.
I found that I had more time to
help with church work because I had better flexibility and control over my time
as my own boss. I used to have to work overtime and even on Sabbath days as an
employee. Being my own boss meant more time to nourish my spiritual life. This
realization gave me much courage not to let the major financial loss get me
I had not planned to serve the
Lord more than I previously did. But I could feel the Spirit compelling me and
giving me more opportunities to serve Him during this time.
I also gradually realized that it
was not God’s will for me to expand my company but to serve Him more instead.
Once in a while, I would have some ambitious ideas and even the opportunities
to expand my company by putting in more time and money. But, thank God, those
ideas faded away after studying the words of God in my daily spiritual
A BOSS IN FAVOR WITH MEN
As Christians, we should always
strive to be in favor with both God and men (Lk 2:52)
in all our ways. In my business dealings, I tell myself to adhere to this same
Having your own business means
having employees who work for you. It is important to treat employees with love
and care. This includes showing sincere concern for their well-being and
acknowledging their efforts.
I had an employee who worked for
me for almost four years. I really thank God for giving me such good help. I
liked him because he was a sincere and honest person, not to mention
responsible and hardworking.
In 2005, business was really slow
and sales were at an all-time low for six months. I told this employee that I
had to let him go in one month’s time and that he should start looking for
another job. He pleaded with me to reconsider my decision because he had a
mortgage to pay and needed to support his poor family.
I realized how badly he needed the
job and how much of an impact it would have on many people if I let him go.
Even though I was in a tight financial situation myself, I decided that he
could continue to work for me until a good job offer came his way, and he
stayed for two more years.
My relationship with this employee
developed into true friendship. Currently, he works for a large Internet
company, and we still go out to lunch once in a while. He still has keys to my
office and is free to visit anytime he wants. When I have problems with my
computers, he’s the one who fixes them.
The Bible gives us good guidelines
on how to be a good boss. “Masters, give your bondservants what is just and fair, knowing that you
also have a Master in heaven” (Col 4:1). Pay and benefits are not the only
ways to keep good employees. Beyond reasonable pay and benefits, I believe
there are other areas in which we need to be right and fair to our employees,
including our attitude and the way we treat them.
WANT TO BECOME YOUR OWN BOSS?
We can make plans but we can’t
force our plans to happen, because everything is under the will of God, who
holds our future. If you have ideas of starting your own business, a period of
praying is necessary, perhaps even fasting, so you understand His will.
Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city,
spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit”; whereas you do not know what will
happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor
that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we
shall live and do this or that.”(Jas 4:13-15)
If your intention to become your
own boss is due to greediness or some other wrong motive, then you may not
receive blessing from our Lord. It doesn’t mean you will fail in your business,
but you may end up losing your faith.
Money and power should not be our
priorities because these things do not give us true peace or help us in our
spiritual journey. Whatever career path we are considering, we should evaluate
how certain factors would impact our faith. At no point in time should we ever
imagine we are strong enough to engage in battle with worldly distractions, and
we should not think that we will never fall.
If we constantly seek God while
being our own boss, we will have the opportunity to improve our relationship
with Him and be blessed by Him in our work.