To the outside world, Lynsi Snyder has it all.
At just 37 years old, she’s the owner and president of the iconic West Coast chain In-N-Out Burger, estimated by Forbes to be worth $3 billion. Snyder is also beloved by her employees: 2019 Glassdoor ratings have In-N-Out at #3, while Synder is rated the #3 CEO.
But Snyder’s journey hasn’t exactly been picture-perfect; in fact, it’s been sprinkled with loss, pain, and suffering. After the untimely death of her father when she was a teenager, Snyder briefly turned to drugs and alcohol to fill the void. She also endured three failed marriages, one of which ended due to abuse.
In the depths of her devastation, Snyder came to a life-changing realization: “I finally found that the deep need in my heart can only be filled by Jesus and my identity in Him,” she told The Christian Post.
Instead of allowing tragic circumstances to define her future, Snyder decided to surrender her life to Christ and dedicate her time, energy, and talent to glorify Him.
“I have learned so much through my broken relationships along with the ups and downs that come through marriage,” she said. "I’ve been the one to hurt, and I’ve been hurt. I have gained insight and growth through both sides of the coin.”
“Prior to the journey of marriage, it’s so important to seek time and healing with Jesus,” she stressed. “Even if you are blessed to be healed of personal wounds and past relationship baggage, life will still bring hurdles and trials to overcome in your relationship.”
Today, Snyder incorporates the biblical principles of trust, care, coaching and excellence into her role as owner of In-N-Out, founded by her grandparents, Harry and Esther Snyder, in 1948. She told CP that she strives to “maintain what we’ve started with: Not compromising the quality of product, service, or standards.”
“My grandparents set the bar high and I only try to raise it,” she said.
Snyder is also a proponent of servant leadership, a principle the heiress said she’s been “pushing for years now.”
“It was tough in the beginning, but now people see the benefits and feel the love,” she said. “All families have their issues and we aren’t perfect, but we try really hard and there are so many good-hearted people here. I love my job.”
The Christian roots of In-N-Out Burger are also evident in other not-so-subtle ways: Printed on the company's soda cup is the Bible reference “John 3:16.” The verse reads, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."
In recent years, Snyder has added two more verse references: Proverbs 24:16 (“ ... the wicked shall fall into mischief”) to the fries container and Luke 6:35 (“But love ye your enemies, and do good”) to coffee cups.
“It was my uncle Rich who put the Bible verses on the cups and wrappers in the early ‘90s, just before he passed away,” she recalled. “He had just accepted the Lord and wanted to put that little touch of his faith on our brand. It’s a family business and will always be, and that’s a family touch. In later years, I added verses to the fry boat, coffee, and hot cocoa cups.”
Driven by a desire to help build the Kingdom of God, Snyder launched the ministry Army of Love, which she told CP stemmed from a “vision borne in a painful time in my life.”
“I was calling out to God as my third marriage was failing. I was in a place where I felt I couldn’t do ministry because my own heart and home were a mess,” she recounted. “My husband and I were in constant turmoil. I became desperate for the hope that I could be used by God despite my circumstances.”
While driving through New Orleans one day, Snyder heard Isaiah 61 in her head. The passage reads, in part: “He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners.”
“I knew that I would be a part of a ministry that would unify the body of Christ into soldiers who would reach out to one another and to the lost in the last days,” Snyder said. “Many people attend church, but the pool of discipleship is shallow, so I saw training modules online to disciple people and take them deeper than they may have gone attending church or Bible study. I envisioned this Army uniting various ministries and supporting churches and organizations.”
The mother of four pointed out that many churches are “afraid” to talk about spiritual warfare and demons, but Christians must be equipped to handle the demonic and prepared to battle the forces of darkness.
“The battle over souls is being waged in the heavenly,” she said. “We want to be on the front lines of this battle to save the lost and bring fallen Christians back to their first love.”
Determined to see her vision become reality, Snyder filed for the nonprofit tax-exemption and waited for over a year. During this time, she met her now-husband, Sean Ellingson. Right after the two got married, the government filing was approved.
“I find it amazing that my quest for love was fulfilled in my time alone with Jesus so that I was ready for my husband and my calling,” she said. “Sean was the perfect leader and general to help me launch this ministry, returning from serving in the U.S. Army to lead God’s Army.”
“These life-changing events brought this Army of Love even more depth, meaning, and purpose. We currently have people enlisted in the mentored online discipleship training and have been partnering with the ministry of Teen Challenge to assist their staff and students to be more unified, equipped, and set free to serve more effectively.”
Whether she’s running a multi-billion-dollar franchise or leading lost souls to Christ, Snyder said she continually relies on the power of God to keep her going — and is thankful for His faithfulness throughout her life.
“Picture our lives being a power strip. We plug so many things into the power strip — work, family, hobbies, and God,” she analogized. “But that is all wrong. God must be the power strip and everything in our life should be plugged into Him as our power source. He gives us life and then we have His power in everything we do.”
“He shouldn’t be one of the ‘plug-ins’ in our life, but rather we should live plugged into Him and the calling He has for us.”