As part three of a series, this post will present the leadership principles in the life of Boaz. Different from Ezra and Barnabas, who led groups, peoples, churches, Boaz will be presented as a leader who wins one person, Ruth.
1. Being part of God’s bigger plan
Boaz is introduced as „a relative” of Naomi’s husband (Ruth 2:1). While the first chapter of the book of Ruth ended with the death of all the males in Naomi’s family – something like „all hope is gone” -, this second chapter is like a call to back up a little and see that all is not lost. God had a plan with a relative set aside in advance, someone unknown to the reader so far, a character in the background who was to come to spotlight soon.
As we shall see later, he became the grand-grandfather of David, as such an ancestor of the Messiah! From a different angle, as presented in the genealogy of our Lord Jesus Christ (Matthew 1:5), God prepared the way ahead in the way Boaz came to life on earth. When his own father, Salmon, married Rahab, and as Boaz grew up in such a family, most probably he learned also to show the spirit of the Gospel, in winning Gentiles to the Lord.
2. A divine double confirmation
When Ruth decided to go to the field to glean, the Bible says: „she happened to come to the part of the field belonging to Boaz” (Ruth 2:3). How come that it just „happened”? Not only that is happened, but she immediately found favor in Boaz’s workers. It was known that gleaning in other’s field, although permitted and regulated by the law of God (Leviticus 23:22, Deuteronomy 24:19-21), could have ended in being assaulted (Ruth 2:22 and Ruth 2:9).
Naomi saw there more than just a good work opportunity. When she heard about whose field was, she exclaimed: „May he be blessed by the Lord, whose kindness has not forsaken the living or the dead […] the man is a close relative of ours, one of our redeemers” (Ruth 2:20). Somehow the reader is lead to see that such a happening is God’s divine appointment.
3. Personal devotion
We do not know much about his personal devotion from actual Bible texts. However, we can get hints as we observe his speech, actions, attitudes. When he came to visit his field workers, he greeted them with „The Lord be with you”. Interesting enough, his workers responded on the same manner „The Lord bless you” (Ruth 2:4). Somehow this shows first that he was a religious man, a believer, and second that he created that environment around him (in his business, as is the case) where the leadership had also spiritual dimensions, where God was the one leading both the owner of the business and the employed workers.
Also, when he spoke with Ruth for the first time, he encouraged her on the spiritual path she had taken: „The Lord repay you for what you have done, and a full reward be given you by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge” (Ruth 2:12).
4. Leading by example
Boaz represented the character of the Christian gentleman. Like Abraham, he commanded his household after him to keep the way of the Lord to do justice and judgment. He showed courtesy to all his servants, and as he passed among his workmen in the field, he said unto the reapers, “The Lord be with you. And they answered him, The Lord bless thee.” Here is a lesson for both masters and servants, for employers and the employed. The servants are strengthened in their hearts to do righteously, to be faithful to masters who manifest respectful kindness and courtesy towards them. Christians should be the most courteous people in the world. (Ellen G. White, Home Missionary, December 1, 1894, Art. A, par. 1).
5. Multiple tasks/gifts
Boaz is praised as „a worthy man of the clan of Elimelech” (Ruth 2:1). Between the line we can read also that he was a rich man who could buy fields, he had many workers, he was following through the whole process of getting the crops (from sowing to harvesting), he was involved into the work by visiting, evaluating, checking the perspectives etc.
As Naomi rightly observed, he was a task-oriented person. When Boaz decided to redeem Ruth, Naomi comforted her saying: „the man will not rest but will settle the matter today” (Ruth 3:18).
Boaz first heard about Ruth’s story, as it was „fully told” to him (Ruth 2:11). Then he spotted her right away from all his workers (Ruth 2:5). Later on he showed her favor in a progressively manner:
- (a) permiting her to glean on his fields for the full season,
- (b) charging the men not to touch her,
- (c) letting her glean even among the sheaves,
- (d) and more, asking others to pull out bundles for her
- (e) in the end giving her much more of the grains harvested
What it seems a benevolence shown unto a poor relative seems to be also part of a bigger test having its peak towards the end of the harvests. When Ruth called to be redeemed, Boaz exclaimed: „May you be blessed by the Lord, my daughter. You have made this last kindness greater than the first [2:11] in that you have not gone after young men, whether poor or rich” (Ruth 3:10).
Boaz decided to act as the redeemer. The „worthy man” (2:1) has found the right match, as „all my fellow townsmen know that you are a worthy woman” (Ruth 3:11).
His vision evolved from helping a poor to marrying a virtuos woman. His story evolved from somebody who gave a hand of help to somebody who received a wife, an offspring. On the resurrection day he will discover with amazement he had a place in the genealogy of Messiah!
7. Working with leaders
Boaz had many workers, young women, young men, and they were organized into the work – there was at least one „servant”, a „young man”, „in charge of the reapers” (Ruth 2:5-6).
Boaz was accustomed with the laws of the Lord and he worked his way through getting the full aproval of the leaders. He was ready to come „in the presence of the elders” (Ruth 4:4), and thus he called „ten men of the elders of the city” (Ruth 4:2, 4:11).
Boaz knew also the character of another leader in the story, and that is Naomi. Whoever got so close to Naomi could be trusted as a godly person (Ruth 2:11, 3:10).
8. Dealing with crises
The first crisis came on the night when Boaz discovered a woman near him in the threshing floor. „At midnight the man was startled and turned over, and behold, a woman lay at his feet” (Ruth 3:8). He was aware that such a situation could easily turn into temptation, wrong interpretation, risk of ruining a reputation etc. „Let it not be known that the woman came to the threshing floor” (Ruth 3:14). He discovered that such an act from Ruth was not for temptation, but for redeeming. He called the name of the Lord and then dealt with the situation in such a way that both parties won without losing anything.
A second crisis was faced when to redeem Ruth, as there was a redeemer nearer than Boaz, who had priority into the process. Boaz presented the case in such a way that he offered the best to his competition, and yet kept his best shots towards the end. The truth and the perspective unfolded in two stages, as all it was to be done not only as a land purchase, a secular business, but involved also a spiritual dimension – following the levirate law to marry the widow of the deceased former owner of the land to be purchased (Ruth 4:5, Deuteronomy 25:5-10, see also a similar story in Genesis 38:8).
9. Getting followers and support
Boaz turned into a leader of his city as „all the people who were at the gate and the elders” wished him a blessed future into his relationship with Ruth (Ruth 4:11-12) and charged him to „act worthily” and „be renowned” into the larger community of faith.
Boaz became the grand-grandfather of David (Ruth 4:17) and that placed him also on the genealogy of Jesus Christ. Winning one poor woman, a Moabite, a stranger, a widow, his name will stand forever in the leadership of the redeemed.