Billionaire: Remember Purpose of Life Amid Recession

( [email protected] ) Mar 27, 2009 01:03 PM EDT

The president of a well-known Indonesian conglomerate shared his strategy for coping with the global financial meltdown.

In an interview conducted at the 3rd Eagles CEO Forum, Dr. Stephen Riady, president of The Lippo Group, urged Christians to hold on to their purpose of life and be willing to adapt amid the economic recession, while embracing change as a necessary part of their transformation.

"I think as Christians, we should know what the purpose of life is," he said. "The Bible tells us that the purpose of life is to know Christ and to grow in Him. So our purpose here is not just to make money. We want to glorify Him. And the way to do this is through our daily life, our experiences in family, business, and so on."

"Life is about transformation and we have to change. And people fear change," Riady continued. "Nowadays, we talk about the global financial crisis. But we also have other uncertainties in life too. There is a lot of fear.

"I think God allowed this so that we can be transformed through all these crisis experiences. It is good as Christians when we see all these crises and difficulties that we learn to adapt to change. My father taught me this Chinese saying that ‘whatever you take up, you must also be prepared to let go.’ In the book of Philippians, Paul says he has learned a secret – he knows how to abound and to abase.”

An expert investor and philanthropist based in Singapore, Riady also believes that one’s attitude in such times of crisis is not to blame God or the enemy but to blame oneself and learn to be responsible.

“Some Christians say that these crises are created by God and others say by the enemy," he noted. "I realize we cannot blame God or the enemy. We have to blame ourselves. It is the fallen human nature – without God, we will make wrong decisions. There is too much greed and over confidence. That’s why so many people make wrong decisions and create so many kinds of crises. We must learn to be responsible.”

For Riady, whose interview was published in the latest issue of Vantage Point, a publication of Eagles Communications, the financial crisis has also been more of a blessing because it drove him more to the place of prayer and meditation of God’s Word.

The billionaire magnate also does not believe in taking the easy way out. For him, the path of faith is fraught with testing rather than being a comfortable road of embracing the attractions along the way, which he defined as temptation.

“There is a difference between testing and temptation," he said. "Temptation is when we want to find an easy way and later we will have problems. Testing is different. It is from God and usually it comes in the form of difficult times, hard work, and so on. That is why when we face a problem or crisis, testing and temptation come at the same time. It has to do with our mindset. We keep thinking: can we find an easy way? What is the quickest way to solve something? Very often, the quick way is not the right way. It may look good at first but it will give us problems later. We have to keep learning and improving ourselves because our environment is constantly changing.”

With that, he encouraged people to look for new opportunities even in the midst of the recession and also gave a word of comfort, noting that the present crisis will not last forever but is part of an economic cycle with a certain, limited lifespan.

Founded by his father Dr. Mochtar Riady, the Lippo group - which consists of devout Christians who believe in honoring God for their business successes - contributes to a variety of causes, particularly education and religion, according to a Business Times report.

It donated $21 million to NUS Business School, $15 million of which went to support the Mochtar Riady Building and $6 million to create two distinguished professorships. The group gives to various churches and schools in Indonesia, Hong Kong, China and Vietnam.

“We set aside millions each year,” said Riady. “And every year it is increasing.”