An interview with Lukas Limanjaya, Founder of Kalm. He was in our Second Cohort in Jakarta.
On Tommy Lee’s last trip to Jakarta from January 20-23, 2019, he had the opportunity to catch up with and interview past cohort members. One of these was Lukas Limanjaya - a sprightly, young business leader with a passion for counselling, improving mental health and well-being, and reducing stigma around mental health disorders.
During the interview, Lukas cited his past as formative in both his grounded faith, and his calling to help broken people cope with and heal from that brokenness. As a young child, he lived in Surabaya - the second largest city in Indonesia, and was raised by his grandparents. At around the age of 8, his parents - who were living in Jakarta, running the family businesses, decided it was time to move their children in with them. Lukas soon found himself and his siblings transplanted to the bustling national capital, and were immediately put into a Christian private school (Sekolah Pelita Harapan - known as SPH).
During those first several years in Jakarta, the adjustment for Lukas was significant, and home life was not ideal. His parents fought often, and Lukas felt acutely the brokenness of the world. To cope, Lukas turned to school. He says, “God’s providence stuck him at home” as he struggled to run off and get up to shenanigans with his friends outside. Instead, he found himself holing up in his room and running to his books, and his studies, to avoid the stresses of his family life. He credits his teachers and counselors at school for their constant support. Most of all, he cites that the key determinant to his success today is how God’s divine purpose brought people into his life to teach him that “Option A” (what he describes as the obvious choice, or other people’s expectations, or the way you’ve been brought up) is not the only option. There is always an Option B. And often Option B is the true option God has for you: His true plan for your life, the one you neither want or expect.
Going for Option B, however, requires what Lukas calls both an external factor (a spiritual mentor, for example), and self-reflection. After all, these types of choices sometimes require a leap of faith. Especially if it’s not what you initially envisioned. To Lukas, the crucial element here is humility. “Being humble isn’t about low self-esteem,” he insists. To him, humility is about knowing who you are, and who God is. “God shows me how big He is as I know him.” Knowing God, and knowing who you are in relation to God (how big He is, and how small you are, and how He protects and covers you) humbles you, and prepares you for his plans for you.
“Being self-reflective comes down to being humble. Being self-reflective means being reflective on who God is. When I acknowledge that everything is a gift from God, it’s ok to be proud of the things I am good at. At the same time, when I acknowledge God is there for me, means it’s ok for me to admit my weaknesses too.”
After university abroad, and a short stint working in the tech industry, Lukas returned to the United States to study a Masters of Arts in Counselling and Biblical Counselling from Westminster Theological Seminary. When he finished, he returned to Jakarta at the end of 2017 armed with the right tools to begin his new business venture: PT Sanubari Senantiasa Sejahtera. It was into this business that he took his passion for helping the broken. His journey starting this, coincided with his time with Resource Global - a time he credits for “emboldening him to keep moving forward in the path God has set for him.” The encouragement he received from his fellow Resource Global cohort members, reminded him that as young professionals, they were all in a similar boat. Whether taking on family businesses, working on new and challenging roles in their current companies, or venturing out on their own, all of them were experiencing many difficult firsts. The sensation that he was not alone, and that others were pushing themselves and supporting one another in Christ, gave him energy to continue.
“When I look back at my life, and I see my challenges and hardships, I don’t see wow look how great I am I went through [all this] and look at where I am right now. When I look back I see those ways that God tells me how I never was alone. I never walked through it alone. The only reason I survived, is that God brought me people, and He was there through those people, and that’s what brought me to my life at this point.”
Since then, Lukas and his business partner, Angela, at PT Sanubari have launched their app: Kalm, a mobile application that allows Indonesians to connect with counselors, offers tips for dealing with mental health issues, as well as encouragements to get you through the day.
As he described his advocacy, Lukas highlighted the muddled view on mental health and wellness as a key point he’d like to change.
“In the business world, if a person has a heart attack from overwork we say ah he worked so hard, what a strong man. But if a person gets anxiety or burnout or depression from overwork we say, ah so weak. Maybe we shouldn’t trust him. And unfortunately, it’s a mindset not only in the business world, but in churches too. Pastors, elders, people serving. We say because they’re doing the Lord’s work they must be perfect. But they’re under immense pressure too.”
His passion for the cause is clear, and it is with these thoughts that he continues to lead the charge on destigmatizing mental health, and pushes forward to help Indonesians who struggle. Still, as with any new venture, days have not been without their uncertainties.
Lukas remembers talking to a fellow Resource Global cohort member who was giving him advice on what not to do when kicking off a startup. Some of the advice that came up included avoiding products that required one educate the market with something completely new. At that, Lukas was immediately dejected. He thought to himself: oh no all the things I was told not to do, I’m doing right now. When he expressed his fears, he was encouraged instead, reminded that: “if you know and feel God brought you and told you to do it, if you have to fail, just fail faithfully.”
“That really changed my mindset,” said Lucas. “I don’t have to prove God called me to do this. Whatever I do, I just have to be faithful. Even in failure, fail faithfully that it honors the Lord. That lifted off so much burden from me. I don’t have to make my company successful. I just need to do things in a way that is faithful.”
These simple, yet powerful, words reminded Lukas of the truth that as Christians, our success should not be defined by what the world considers success, but by our service to the Lord. Just as God is faithful to us, so should we remain faithful to Him in all things. This revelation freed Lukas to work without worry, and to know that regardless of how “successful” his company becomes, he needs only to go forth in faith and rest assured in God’s promise of love and grace.
For Lukas, in the end, it’s not about success today, tomorrow, or in this lifetime now. It’s not even about his success as an individual and the number of other people he helps with his projects. It’s about an eternal purpose that serves the Lord faithfully, and becomes part of a tapestry that weaves God’s plans together into one beautiful, big picture. “Even if you fail, fail faithfully. Everything we do is to honor God”.