#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.