#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.