#305 Serving Leaders ask themselves: “What is in my hand?”

July 21, 2021

Leaders with a vision are always conscious of their need for resources to accomplish the vision. These resources may be finances, people, skills, or knowledge or other things. Leaders often begin the search for these resources outside themselves and begin to look around to meet the needs at hand. But serving leaders learn from the question God asked Moses, “What is that in your hand?”

2 Then the Lord said to him, “What is that in your hand?” “A staff,” he replied. 3 The Lord said, “Throw it on the ground.” Moses threw it on the ground and it became a snake, and he ran from it. 4 Then the Lord said to him, “Reach out your hand and take it by the tail.” So Moses reached out and took hold of the snake and it turned back into a staff in his hand. 5 “This,” said the Lord, “is so that they may believe that the Lord, the God of their fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob—has appeared to you” (Exodus 4:2–5, NIV).

This exchange between God and Moses holds many insights for serving leaders and they do well to ask themselves the question, “What is in my hand?”

Serving leaders ask “What is in my hand?“ to discover resources.

Moses had a staff in his hand. It was an ordinary object that Moses walked with every day, but he did not even notice what it was. He may have assumed that everyone had a similar staff. But God asked him to notice what he had.

Serving leaders learn to ask themselves what they have at hand when they face a challenge or have a need. What experience do I bring to this situation? What resources do I have? Who do I know that could help? All of these questions allow resources to be discovered that might have been unnoticed. God took what Moses offered and used it to perform miracles.  Before looking beyond themselves for resources, serving leaders take a new look at what they already have. And as they offer these ordinary resources to God they find that they have enough!

Serving leaders ask “What is in my hand?“ to develop competence.

When the staff turned into a snake, Moses’ immediate response was to run away. But God asked him to pick the snake up, something Moses never dreamed he would be able to do. God wanted him to develop a new level of confidence and conquer his fear. Serving leaders ask “What is in my hand?” to stretch themselves to take on new tasks or responsibilities that they felt unprepared to do.

Serving leaders ask “What is in my hand?“ to diminish dependance.

Moses did not feel adequate for the task he was called to do. He felt that he was just a shepherd in the dessert with little to offer. He could have imagined that he needed much more than what was in his hand to lead. He saw himself as a person in need of a handout instead of having something to hand out. This sense of dependency cripples many leaders. But serving leaders look inward first. Before they ask “What do I need from you?” they ask “What’s in my hand that I can offer you?”  

For further reflection and discussion:

  • Take 30 minutes to reflect on what is in your hand and write down your observations. What training, life experiences, financial resources, education, professional opportunities, etc. do you carry in your hand? What surprises you on your list that you did not previously see as a resource?
  • What current situation seems challenging to me in my leadership? Reflect on what you have learned from Moses to apply to your own challenge. Are there things I have in my hand that could be used creatively to meet this challenge? Are there things I have previously experienced that can help me navigate this situation? Are there ways that God is inviting me to face my fears and develop competence in new areas?
  • Do I tend to see myself as a person in need or a person who can help those in need? What impact does this have on my leadership?         

Until next time, yours on the journey,

Jon Byler

In the next issue, we’ll look at the same question serving leaders ask others, “What’s in Your Hand?”  

#304 Serving leaders ask those who follow: “Who are you becoming?”

Serving leaders ask themselves hard questions about who they are becoming. As they gain clarity and direction about their focus, they also serve those they lead by encouraging them to walk the same journey of discovery. They desire that Paul’s instructions are helpful not only for their own lives but also for those they serve. “And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:18, NIV).

Serving leaders seek to call forth the best in those who follow. They desire the transformation indicated in this verse. And they are not afraid to ask probing questions that will guide others on their leadership journey. They recognize that asking questions rather than giving answers allows those they lead to grow and develop their own capacity to think and to reflect. So They serve by asking those who follow, “Who are you becoming?” Where helpful they are willing to offer their own observations but are willing to simply lay the question before the person and allow them to reflect. Serving leaders acknowledge that this question is a deep question for one’s soul and not a means of doing a performance assessment! As they gently ask this question of those who follow, they examine their motives to ensure that their only desire is genuine care for the other person and a desire to see them grow. They refuse to ask this question as an underhanded way to address visible problems. They serve in love by respecting the level of openness the person offers in response. As they invite others to ponder this question, they ask it with several purposes in their mind.

Serving leaders ask “Who are you becoming?“ to reveal direction.

Where appropriate serving leaders may invite those who follow to reflect on their own growth journey by asking, “Are you becoming the spouse/parent/community leader/worker you want to become? Are there ways I can help you move in the direction you want to go? Are there any roadblocks I can remove from your path?” Serving leaders recognize that those who follow them are changing and moving either consciously or unconsciously. They raise the question to bring awareness to their followers of the direction in which they are moving. The question recognizes the uniqueness of each individual and is less concerned about the position on the journey than the direction of the journey.

Serving leaders ask “Who are you becoming?“ to redirect focus.

Serving leaders know their own tendency to lose the correct focus, so they can gently ask those who follow, “Who is influencing you the most? Where do you go for ideas and inspiration? Is this taking you in the direction you want to go?” The question serves as a reminder to the follower that focus is critical in determining direction.

Serving leaders ask “Who are you becoming?“ to release transformation.

The goal of the serving leader is to equip, empower and release the persons who follow. They desire the best for their lives, not only in the role in which they serve the organization but in their entire lives. They serve those who follow by helping them become the people that they were designed to be. So, they ask, “Who are you becoming?” to encourage them to experience the power of transformation in their own lives.  

For further reflection and discussion:

  • Do I have enough love and concern for those I lead to ask them “Who are you becoming?” If not, what does this indicate about my heart and what do I need to change? If so, when will I begin to ask them this question?
  • Before I ask anyone the question “Who are you becoming?” do I have any hidden motives about why I will ask them this question? Is my desire to help them genuine and does it go beyond my concern for their work performance?
  • Am I willing to simply ask the question of others and not demand a response from them? Am I willing to offer my own observations only if requested by that person?               

Until next time, yours on the journey,

Jon Byler

In the next issue, we’ll look at a question serving leaders ask themselves:  “What is in my hand?”

#303 Serving leaders ask themselves: “Who am I Becoming?”

June 23, 2021 

Serving leaders use questions to probe their own leadership journey and to encourage those who follow to do the same. The posture of asking questions helps keep serving leaders aware that they don’t have all the answers and that they are also on their own leadership journey. They ask “Who am I?” to establish their identity as we saw in the previous issue. Then they ask themselves, “Who am I becoming?” to assess their direction. They reflect on Paul’s words to the Corinthian believers, “And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:18, NIV). Serving leaders desire to move in the direction of “ever-increasing glory” and stop to reflect on what this means for their own life and leadership.  

Serving leaders ask “Who am I becoming?“ to assess direction.    

Leaders are all moving on a journey, and set tangible goals to measure their progress towards success. They focus on the vision and outcomes with little thought about themselves as persons.  Leaders are moving, usually fast! But serving leaders slow down long enough to ask if they are moving in the right direction. They “are being transformed” and learn to ask themselves who they are becoming. They courageously ask themselves, “Am I becoming more loving? More generous? More compassionate? More sensitive? More truthful? Compared to a year ago, what changes do I see in my life?” These questions serve as signposts for the direction of the leaders’ journey and serving leaders ask themselves these questions to confirm they are moving in the right direction.  

Serving leaders ask “Who am I becoming?“ to assure focus.  Paul reminds us to “contemplate the Lord’s glory…” This is an issue of our focus. Serving leaders ask themselves about the focus of their journey. They are not afraid to ask, “Am I becoming a person more influenced by social media, professional journals, newspapers or Jesus? How does this impact my life and leadership? Am I increasingly turning my heart towards Him and seeking answers from Him about my leadership challenges?” Serving leaders ask hard questions to ensure that their focus is in the right direction.  

Serving leaders ask “Who am I becoming?“ to accelerate transformation.  Paul indicates that our transformation should be with “ever-increasing glory.” Serving leaders pause to reflect on who they are becoming so that their growth will be accelerated. They assess their direction and focus and where needed, make corrections and adjustments. By asking the question of themselves, serving leaders accelerate their own growth. Where needed they set personal growth goals which will be the focus of a future issue in this series.   

Serving leaders learn to ask themselves the question “Who am I becoming?” at least periodically. They set aside some time to think through their responses and often find it helpful to step aside from their normal routines for this reflective question. Put a date and time in your schedule that you will begin to ponder this question.  

For further reflection and discussion: 

  • As I look at my life in the past year, what changes have I made in who I am? Am I moving in the direction that I need to go? How would I finish this sentence, “Since last year I am becoming more …..? What would my spouse or a close friend say about who I am becoming?   
  • Where is my focus? To what sources do I look for inspiration, guidance, ideas and wisdom? Am I becoming a person more focused on Jesus or other sources? What does my calendar indicate about my focus? What changes do I need to make?     
  • How can my personal transformation be accelerated? Based on my answers to the previous questions, what changes do I need to make in my life? With whom do I need to share these things?  

Until next time, yours on the journey, 

Jon Byler 

In the next issue, we’ll examine the same question serving leaders ask of others, “Who are you becoming?”  

#302 Serving Leaders ask those who follow: “Who are you?”

June 9, 2021 

Serving leaders first ask themselves, “Who am I?” But then they take a look at those who follow them and ask a related question, “Who are you?” Serving leaders love those who follow and they desire for their followers the same that they desire for themselves. They invite their followers to also learn about their identity, their strengths and their weaknesses. They invite their followers to also consider Paul’s instruction: “For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you” (Romans 12:3, NIV). Serving leaders help their followers to think of themselves with “sober judgement” by asking “Who are you?”  

Serving leaders ask “Who are you?“ to establish identity.  

Serving leaders do not identify their followers only by their role. They acknowledge that each person is unique with an identity beyond what they do. They seek to learn to know each person they lead deeply. They become students of those they lead. With a genuine desire to know they ask, “Who are you?” Beyond questions related to their work, serving leaders often ask questions like, “What makes you laugh? What makes you cry? When do you feel most fully alive?” Serving leaders also want their followers to understand themselves. They ask their followers “Who are you?” to encourage reflection on their own identity.   

Serving leaders ask “Who are you?“ to express strengths.  

Serving leaders recognize that each of their followers have unique gifts that God has given to them. They ask, “Who are you?” to identify those strengths. They are not afraid to ask, “What do you most love to do when you are here? What gives you the most energy? What more would you love to do?” Serving leaders are willing to invest time and energy to identify the greatest strengths of those they lead because they genuinely care about the person. When needed and when possible, they are willing to shift a person’s responsibilities to best fit their strengths.  They focus on the strengths of those they lead and seek to maximize the potential that they see in each person.    

Serving leaders ask “Who are you?“  to expose weaknesses.  

Serving leaders also ask, “Who are you?” to expose the weaknesses in those they lead. As they know for themselves, no one can be strong in every area. Serving leaders don’t expose weaknesses of others to demean or discourage. Instead, they help followers understand their own weaknesses to build a strong team. By recognizing an area of weakness, a follower will be willing to pass off a task to another person on the team gifted in that area. So, serving leaders ask their followers “What parts of your work are not life giving to you? Which elements of your job could be done better by another member of our team?” They listen carefully to the answers and serve by helping the follower to discover ways that others can complement their weaknesses.  

Serving leaders continue the journey of asking the right questions by asking those they serve, “Who are you?” 

For further reflection and discussion: 

  •  For these questions, choose one person you lead and answer the questions based on that person.  
  • On what does this person base their identity? Do I know them well enough that I understand who they are apart from the role they fulfill?  How can I help this person be more secure in their identity? 
  • What are their greatest strengths? How are these expressed in their role? Are there changes I should make to their responsibilities that would allow them to be more closely aligned with their strengths? What potential do I observe in this person and when can I communicate that to them? 
  • What are their greatest weaknesses? Have I explored these with the person in a way that does not diminish their strengths? Have I clearly helped them understand that these are opportunities for teamwork?  Are there any changes I should make in their responsibilities to minimize their weaknesses?   

Until next time, yours on the journey, 

Jon Byler 

In the next issue, we’ll examine another question serving leaders ask themselves: Who am I becoming?  

#301 Serving leaders ask themselves: “Who am I?”

May 26, 2021

Most leaders see themselves as people with answers but serving leaders are more concerned about asking the right questions than having the right answers. Asking questions helps people think, helps people grow and helps people lead. So, serving leaders grow themselves and others by learning to ask good strategic questions of themselves and of those they lead. In this series we’ll examine questions that serving leaders ask themselves and a corresponding question that they ask those who follow. The first and primary question leaders ask themselves is, “Who am I?” Paul invites this question when he says, “For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you” (Romans 12:3, NIV). Paul invites all leaders to think of themselves “with sober judgement.” It is not always selfish to think of self. When done with sober judgment one of the ways leaders serve  the people they lead by thinking properly about their identity. Serving leaders ask themselves, “Who am I?” to recognize three components of who they are.  

Serving leaders ask “Who am I?” to establish their identity.

Every leader needs to be grounded in their identity. Paul challenges leaders to reflect on who they are. He does this in the context of a diversity of giftings which God has given to individuals. The temptation for every leader is to identify themselves with their giftings. This can lead to false pride or thinking “of yourself more highly than you ought.” But serving leaders ask themselves, “Who am I?” in order to establish their identity not in what they do, but in who they are. When they ask this question, they avoid comparing themselves to other leaders but focus on who they are. They recognize that God distributes gifts but their identity lies in their relationship with the giver, not the gift.

Serving leaders ask “Who am I?“ to express their strengths.

Paul asks leaders to reflect on the “faith” or gifts that God has given to them. In the context, he is looking at the diversity of gifts that God gives to His people. Serving leaders base their identity on their relationship with God but then ask themselves “Who am I?” to discover and express their strengths. They seek to identify and confirm the gifts God has given them. They are eager to learn about the areas in which they are strong in order to fully maximize their strengths. They acknowledge that they will only flourish in their leadership role when they are utilizing the unique strengths God has given them.

Serving leaders ask “Who am I?“  to expose their weaknesses.

Paul requests that leaders think of themselves with “sober judgement.”  While serving leaders focus on building on their strengths, they also ask “Who am I?” to expose who they are not. They uncover their weaknesses in the journey of self-discovery. As they do so, they do not compare themselves with others who have different gifts. Nor do they seek to become strong in areas in which they are not gifted. Instead, serving leaders allow their weaknesses to move them toward others who complement their strengths. They allow their weaknesses to help them build a well-rounded team.

Start the journey of asking the right questions by asking yourself, “Who am I?”

For further reflection and discussion:

  • On what do I base my identity? Is it primarily focused on my gifts and accomplishments or on my relationship with God? What difference does this make in the way I lead?   
  • What are my greatest strengths? (List several) Am I tempted to see my strengths as a way to  feel  better than others? If so, how does this impact my leadership? What am I doing to develop my strengths?
  • What are my significant weaknesses? (List several) Am I tempted to look down on myself because of these weaknesses or do I acknowledge that I have weaknesses that require me to work with others who can complement me?              

Until next time, yours on the journey,

Jon Byler

In the next issue, we’ll look at how serving leaders ask those who follow, “Who are you?”    

#300 Boaz: Serving by Making Things Happen

(See special offer below!), May 12, 2021

We have already seen that Boaz was a man of great character. His heart to serve directed his actions as he treated others well, honored the weak, gave generously and kept his word. In this final issue we’ll reflect on how Boaz served by making things happen.

1 Meanwhile Boaz went up to the town gate and sat down there just as the guardian-redeemer he had mentioned came along. Boaz said, “Come over here, my friend, and sit down.” So, he went over and sat down. 2 Boaz took ten of the elders of the town and said, “Sit here,” and they did so. 3 Then he said to the guardian-redeemer, “Naomi, who has come back from Moab, is selling the piece of land that belonged to our relative Elimelek (Ruth 4:1-3, NIV Read the whole chapter to get the whole story).

All leaders are people of action; they make things happen. Boaz illustrates how serving leaders make things happen in ways that focus on others.

Serving leaders make things happen by taking initiative.

After Ruth’s late-night visit to Boaz her mother-in-law told her, “Wait, my daughter, until you find out what happens. For the man will not rest until the matter is settled today” (Ruth 3:18). Just as Naomi suspected Boaz took initiative right away. Boaz went to the town gate where business was transacted. He arrived at the right time and was ready to act as soon as his relative arrived. He called for the meeting and set the agenda clearly. Boaz was doing what leaders do well, taking initiative to make things happen. But why was he doing this? He was responding to a request from Ruth, a widow. As a relative he had a cultural responsibility to help Ruth who was in need. Although he would ultimately gain a wife from his initiative his actions were not selfish. Serving leaders take initiative to make things happen but they do it from a heart that focuses on others more than themselves.

Serving leaders make things happen by taking risks.

The role of the redeemer was risky. The relative was expected to acquire the property of the person who had died, but also to marry the widow. The children from this relationship would be considered as belonging to the deceased man which potentially divides the redeemer’s estate. Boaz presented the situation to his relative knowing that this man was first in line to redeem Naomi’s property. If the relative took the offer, Ruth and the property would go to him instead of Boaz. Boaz was willing to take the risk while the relative was not. Again, he was willing to do what leaders do, take risks to move forward. But serving leaders, like Boaz, take risks that benefit not only themselves but also those they serve.  

Serving leaders make things happen by taking responsibility.  

When the relative declined to act, Boaz was ready to assume responsibility.  9 Then Boaz announced to the elders and all the people, “Today you are witnesses that I have bought from Naomi all the property of Elimelek, Kilion and Mahlon. 10 I have also acquired Ruth the Moabite, Mahlon’s widow, as my wife, in order to maintain the name of the dead with his property, so that his name will not disappear from among his family or from his hometown. Today you are witnesses!” (Ruth 4:9-10). All leaders make things happen by taking responsibility. Boaz, as a serving leader, took responsibility that was focused on others, not himself. Serving leaders step up and take responsibility that benefits others.

The life of Boaz serves as a model to all serving leaders. He was a man of “standing” whose leadership actions flowed out of his heart to serve. Follow his example with those you serve today!

For further reflection and discussion:

  • Skim the four chapters of Ruth looking for other indications of how Boaz made things happen. What do you observe? In what way can you learn from his example?
  • What was one of the last significant initiatives I took to make things happen? Was it primarily focused on my interest and benefit or on others? What does this say about my heart condition and how does this impact my leadership?
  • In what way can I take risks that benefit others in my current role? Am I inclined to take too much or too little risk? How does this impact my leadership?
  • Is there an area of my leadership in which I have declined to take responsibility, perhaps fearing what it would cost me? How does the example of Boaz invite me to move forward?

Until next time, yours on the journey,

Jon Byler

In the next issue, we’ll begin a series on questions serving leaders ask!  

Special offer! You just read issue #300 of this publication which started in 2009. To celebrate you can download a free PDF copy of “Signposts for the Journey volume Three: Reflections of a Servant Leader on Daniel, Paul, Trust, Timing, Temptation and More….” Here you will find 52 reflections, enough to keep you growing every week for a year!  Click here to download your copy of this special offer! (If you prefer an electronic reader version or hard copy, click here to purchase on Amazon.)

#299 Boaz: Serving by Keeping His Word

April 28, 2021

As a “man of standing” Boaz served others in several ways that we have already seen. He treated others well, he treated the weak with respect, and he gave generously. He also served others by keeping his word. Several times in the story of Ruth, Boaz did what he said he would do and serves as an example to serving leaders in this area of integrity. 

8 So Boaz said to Ruth, “My daughter, listen to me. Don’t go and glean in another field and don’t go away from here. Stay here with the women who work for me. 9 Watch the field where the men are harvesting, and follow along after the women. I have told the men not to lay a hand on you. …. 15 As she got up to glean, Boaz gave orders to his men, “Let her gather among the sheaves and don’t reprimand her. 16 Even pull out some stalks for her from the bundles and leave them for her to pick up, and don’t rebuke her” (Ruth 2:8, 15-16 NIV).

11 And now, my daughter, don’t be afraid. I will do for you all you ask. All the people of my town know that you are a woman of noble character. 12 Although it is true that I am a guardian-redeemer of our family, there is another who is more closely related than I. 13 Stay here for the night, and in the morning if he wants to do his duty as your guardian-redeemer, good; let him redeem you. But if he is not willing, as surely as the Lord lives I will do it (Ruth 3:11-13).

What can we learn from Boaz about how to serve by keeping our word?  

Serving leaders remember their words.

Boaz promised Ruth that his men would not abuse her. These were not idle words which he had not every intention of fulfilling. He remembered what he promised her and took action on it quickly. Many leaders talk a lot and make promises hoping to please those they lead. But they have no intention of acting on their promises and quickly forget what they said. Their followers soon learn not to pay attention to their empty words. But serving leaders think before they speak because they want to remember what they have promised. They take quick action as Boaz did, or they make a note to themselves to follow up later. Serving leaders make a conscious effort to remember every word they promise.  

Serving leaders honor their words.  

Boaz remembered his words and followed up with action. He went to his workers and repeated his instructions to them to fulfil the promise he made to Ruth. When he later promised her that he would act on her request for marriage he said, “as surely as the Lord lives I will do it.” Boaz made this strong statement because he was a leader that honored his commitment. Many leaders talk more than they act. But serving leaders don’t say “I will do it” lightly. They honor their words with appropriate action.

Serving leaders build a reputation with their words.

Boaz lived his life by honoring his words and his consistency built a reputation that every leader should desire. After Ruth reported to Naomi what Boaz said, Naomi responded, “Wait, my daughter, until you find out what happens. For the man will not rest until the matter is settled today” (Ruth 3:18). The reputation of Boaz was not built in a day, it was the result of him consistently honoring his word. Many leaders honor their words one day but not the next. But serving leaders work hard day after day to follow through on their commitments. They apologize when they fail and keep striving to be a person of their word. And with time, they build a reputation that all their followers can trust.

For further reflection and discussion:

  • Skim the four chapters of Ruth looking for other indications of how Boaz kept his word. What do you observe? In what way can you learn from his example?
  • Do I ever forget what I promised to do? What can I do to minimize this omission?
  • Have I recently promised more than I fulfilled? What is the result for my leadership?  How can I improve in honoring my words?
  • Am I known as a person who keeps my word? If not, why not and what needs to change? If so, how can I use the trust others have in me to better serve them?

Until next time, yours on the journey,

Jon Byler

In the next issue, we’ll look at how Boaz served by making things happen.

#298 Boaz: Serving by Giving Generously

April 14, 2021 

We have already observed that Boaz was a “man of standing.” His character shaped his leadership actions in the way he treated others well and in the way he treated the weak. His generous giving also reflected his character. Twice in the story Boaz gave generously to Ruth.  

14 At mealtime Boaz said to her, “Come over here. Have some bread and dip it in the wine vinegar.” When she sat down with the harvesters, he offered her some roasted grain. She ate all she wanted and had some left over. (Ruth 2:14, NIV).  

15 He also said, “Bring me the shawl you are wearing and hold it out.” When she did so, he poured into it six measures of barley and placed the bundle on her. Then he went back to town. (Ruth 3:15).  

Boaz shared his meal with Ruth in the field and later gave her a generous gift of grain, as much as she could possibly carry! And Ruth was not the only person who benefited from his heart of generosity. There were others also who enjoyed the meal with Boaz and other women who were working in the field. Boaz was able to give generously because his heart was focused on serving. His generosity is an example to all serving leaders.  

Serving leaders give generously as they focus on others instead of themselves.  

As Boaz sat down to his meal, he could have simply thanked God that he had food. But he looked around and saw that Ruth had nothing to eat. So, he shared generously with her, giving his best, not the leftovers. His focus was not on his own needs but on the needs of others.  Many leaders focus on themselves as they lead. They think about their own goals, their own agenda and see others as a means to help them accomplish their ends. But serving leaders look at their role as an opportunity to serve those they lead. They focus on others before themselves. Their focus is outward not inward.  

Serving leaders give generously as they focus on giving instead of getting.  

Boaz owned the field and rightly expected a harvest. But his focus was on giving instead of getting. He saw the grain as something that would not only meet his needs but allow him to give to others like Ruth. He likely knew that givers also receive in return, but his motive was simply to give out of a generous heart. Many leaders are in roles of leadership for what they can get out of it. This may be financial rewards, prestige, a sense of control or a love of power. But serving leaders lead to give. They don’t measure success by what they get but rather by what they can give. Their focus is giving not getting.  

Serving leaders give generously as they focus on abundance instead of scarcity.  

Boaz did not look at his harvest and think that giving would bring loss to him. He did not think that sharing his lunch would make him go hungry. He had a mindset of abundance. He recognized that there is enough for all and that sharing brings blessing instead of scarcity. Little did he know at this point that he would gain a wife and a place in Israel’s history from his generosity. But Boaz had already learned that leaders who give also gain. Many leaders find it difficult to give because they see resources as scarce. They think that if they give, they won’t have enough for themselves. These leaders only give if they feel that they have more than enough. Leaders with this mentality seldom get enough to give! But serving leaders see a world of abundance. They find blessing in giving and experience the joy of receiving as well. Their giving inspires others to give, and the world begins to flourish in beautiful ways. Their focus is on abundance, not scarcity.  

For further reflection and discussion: 

  • Skim the four chapters of Ruth looking for other indications of how Boaz gave generously. What do you observe? In what way can you learn from his example?  
  • Am I in leadership because of what I want to get or because of what I want to give? In what way have my actions in the past week reflected this condition of my heart?  
  • When I measure success is it based on what I get from my leadership or on what I am able to give? What is a practical way I can use my role to give more generously? What things other than physical resources can I give?  
  • Is my focus primarily on abundance or scarcity? How does this impact my generosity? What can I do to increase my focus on abundance?  
  • What do I have to give? (Think of something tangible that you can give to someone. This may be an item you own, a gift of time, a financial contribution to someone in need, etc. Find something that you can do to give. Then reflect on what it does to your heart.)  

Until next time, yours on the journey, 

Jon Byler 

In the next issue, we’ll examine how Boaz served by keeping his word.  

#297 Boaz: Serving by Honoring the Weak

March 31, 2021

As we saw in the last issue Boaz showed his heart towards his workers, strangers and family by treating them well. But in his actions towards Ruth, his character is more fully revealed in the way he showed honor to her, a person with no standing in the society. The greatest test of leadership is not in how a leader treats their superiors or their peers but in how they treat those under them, especially those who are considered weak.  Ruth, by all external measures, was a weak person with very little hope in life. She was a foreigner, she was a widow, she was poor, and she was childless! But Boaz honors her and shows all serving leaders how to relate to the weak in their circles of influence.

Serving leaders honor the weak by seeing them as people.

13 “May I continue to find favor in your eyes, my lord,” she said. “You have put me at ease by speaking kindly to your servant—though I do not have the standing of one of your servants.” 14 At mealtime Boaz said to her, “Come over here. Have some bread and dip it in the wine vinegar.” When she sat down with the harvesters, he offered her some roasted grain. She ate all she wanted and had some left over (Ruth 2:13-14 NIV). Boaz recognized that beneath the tattered dress there was a person of worth. He saw Ruth, not as a needy widow, but as a person created in the image of God! She was nervous but she put him at ease! They shared a meal together; he served her food instead of asking her to serve him. He treated her kindly. Serving leaders do not judge the value of a person by their status or ability. They look into the eyes of every person and see an image bearer of God. Serving leaders treat the weak as fellow human beings.

Serving leaders honor the weak by restoring their dignity.

  15 As she got up to glean, Boaz gave orders to his men, “Let her gather among the sheaves and don’t reprimand her. 16 Even pull out some stalks for her from the bundles and leave them for her to pick up, and don’t rebuke her.” 17 So Ruth gleaned in the field until evening. Then she threshed the barley she had gathered, and it amounted to about an ephah (Ruth 2:15-17).

Ruth needed help, she was poor and hungry! She and Naomi had no land and no way to harvest a crop. Many leaders would rush to meet the need with a generous gift. But Boaz doesn’t give the food to Ruth!  Instead, he provides a safe space for her to work for the grain. He makes it possible for her to do her part to earn the food. She was able to walk home in the evening with her head held higher. Boaz restored her dignity. Serving leaders are eager to help but they do it in ways that allow the recipient to recover their dignity.   

Serving leaders honor the weak by lifting people.   

 In all that Boaz did with Ruth, he was in a posture of lifting her up. Many leaders scorn the weak or push them down, demeaning them with labels of “lazy, incompetent, disfigured, worthless” etc. It is easy for leaders to crush the weak. But everything Boaz did with Ruth, including marriage in the end, was to lift her up. He treated her as a person, restored her dignity, and helped her to earn her daily bread. He avoided handouts but offered a hand up. His marriage to her showed his willingness to elevate Ruth to equal status with him in the society. He did not marry someone “beneath” his status, he lifted a beautiful person up to his level! Serving leaders are lifters of others. They especially find ways to lift the weak, providing opportunities for them to grow and develop. They serve the weak by seeing them as people, restoring their dignity and lifting them up.  

For further reflection and discussion:

  • Skim the four chapters of Ruth, especially chapter 2, looking for other indications of how Boaz honored the weak. What do you observe? In what way can you learn from his example?
  • What is my attitude towards those who are “weak’’? Do I treat them with less respect than my peers or superiors? Is there any person or group of people that I see with disdain? In what way is this an indication of my heart?
  • Who are the ‘weak’ in my organization or community? What can I do to see them as people? What can I do to help them recover their dignity? How can I lift them up? What is the difference between a “handout” and a “hand up”?
  • How am I tempted to “help” people in a way that decreases their sense of dignity? What can I change to provide help that builds people up?

Until next time, yours on the journey,

Jon Byler

In the next issue, we will look at how Boaz served by giving generously.

#296 Boaz: Serving by Treating Others Well

March 17, 2021 

We already observed that Boaz was a man of standing. Who he was on the inside influenced all we can see on the outside. In the remaining issues of this series we will look more closely at five actions of serving that illustrate his heart and character. First, we’ll look closely at how Boaz treated others.  

We often judge a leader by his/her accomplishments. What did they do? What goals were reached? What actions were taken? These are valid questions, but Boaz calls serving leaders to use different standards for measurement. Let’s look more closely at how Boaz treated several groups of people and what serving leaders can learn from his example.  

Serving leaders treat their workers well. 

 Just then Boaz arrived from Bethlehem and greeted the harvesters, “The Lord be with you!” “The Lord bless you!” they answered (Ruth 2:4, NIV). These are the first words we hear from Boaz, words of greeting. His first words were of blessing and affirmation, showing his respect and relationship with them. He was the boss, the owner, the employer, the founder of the enterprise. But Boaz didn’t check their production level before he connected with their hearts. And their response showed that the respect was mutual. Many workers look away when the boss appears, fearing his reprimand or disapproval. Boaz teaches serving leaders that treating workers well is the best approach to relationships. Treating people well will also lead to better production! But serving leaders treat their workers well, not because of any anticipated results, but because it is the right thing to do!  

Serving leaders treat strangers well. 

5 Boaz asked the overseer of his harvesters, “Who does that young woman belong to?” 6 The overseer replied, “She is the Moabite who came back from Moab with Naomi.  8 So Boaz said to Ruth, “My daughter, listen to me. Don’t go and glean in another field and don’t go away from here. Stay here with the women who work for me. 9 Watch the field where the men are harvesting, and follow along after the women. I have told the men not to lay a hand on you. And whenever you are thirsty, go and get a drink from the water jars the men have filled.” (Ruth 2:5-6, 8-9). At this point in the story Ruth is a stranger to Boaz, a person he has never met. Some leaders would ignore the stranger. Others might make sure the stranger is removed from the property. But Boaz takes time to find out who she is and then promptly finds a way to serve her! He does not seek to bring her into his team to accomplish his goals; he finds a way to help her meet her goals. Serving leaders see strangers as new opportunities to serve!  

Serving leaders treat their family well. 

Near the end of the story of Ruth we get a glimpse of how Boaz interacted with his extended family. 1 Meanwhile Boaz went up to the town gate and sat down there just as the guardian-redeemer he had mentioned came along. Boaz said, “Come over here, my friend, and sit down.” So he went over and sat down (Ruth 4:1).  

In many ways, this relative was a competitor. As the guardian-redeemer he had first claim over the land of Naomi and the widow Ruth whom Boaz now wanted to marry. But Boaz calls him “my friend….” They have an amicable discussion which ends in Boaz being blessed to marry Ruth. Boaz serves his family well by avoiding a division of relationships. He balances his own interests with those of his family and everyone leaves on friendly terms. Serving leaders treat their families well honoring the relationships above their own interests.  

For further reflection and discussion: 

  • Skim the four chapters of Ruth looking for other indications of how Boaz treated people. What do you observe? In what way can you learn from his example?  
  • What happens in my leadership space when I arrive? Do people welcome my presence or look away? How can I focus on those I lead as people rather than objects to accomplish my vision?  
  • How do I tend to view strangers? Do I see them as distractions? As potential helpers for me? Or, do I see them as new opportunities to serve? What stranger have I met in the last week and what might God invite me to do to serve them?  
  • Read again the account of how Boaz, a single man, interacted with his extended family in Ruth 4:1-12. What more do you learn from his example?  Why might it have been hard for Boaz who was eager to get married to treat his potential rival respectfully? Who in my family do I struggle to serve? What can I do this week to honor them?  

Until next time, yours on the journey, 

Jon Byler 

In the next issue, we’ll examine how Boaz served by honoring the weak.