The best type of ministry leadership training includes principles we learn from the Bible. What does God have to say about leadership?
Boaz, from the book of Ruth, is an exceptional example of a great leader. Specific circumstances and reactions in his life help us to see how we can practically apply his leadership qualities or principles to ministry.
Boaz is first introduced in Ruth chapter 2, as he was a family member to Elimelech, Naomi’s husband who had died. Ruth, the Moabitess, had been married to Naomi’s son, Mahlon. After his death, Ruth makes a life-changing decision to leave her family and all she has ever known to go with Naomi back to Bethlehem, Judea (chapter 1). Upon their arrival Ruth sets her mind to go immediately to work for their livelihood. She found a place to gather grain in the fields during the harvest time. Widows were allowed by law (as God’s provision) to gather grain in the corners of the fields and pick up any other leftovers on the ground outside the sheaves in the fields. Ruth “happens” to begin gathering grain in Boaz’s fields.
Ministry Principles From Boaz
Greet those who serve with you.
Boaz blessed his servants when he saw them. “And behold, Boaz came from Beth-lehem, and said unto the reapers, The Lord be with you. And they answered him, The Lord bless thee.” Ruth 2:4
Shake hands, say hello with a smile, give your “servants” in ministry a welcome! Acknowledge they are present and encourage them in the name of the Lord.
Take care of the natural needs of those you work with.
Boaz provided water for his servants to drink and meals for them in the middle of the day. Boaz tells Ruth, “…and when thou art athirst, go unto the vessels, and drink of that which the young men have drawn.” Ruth 2:9 and “…At mealtime come thou hither, and eat of the bread, and dip thy morsel in the vinegar. And she sat beside the reapers: and he reached her parched corn, and she did eat, and was sufficed, and left.” Ruth 2:14.
Food and drink are one of the best ways to take care of hard-working people. Provide meals and even rest for those who are laboring with you in ministry for special work days, etc. If at all possible make it worth their while by taking care of their natural needs.
Be understanding, serving church members (including church staff) and their families may get sick or need a personal break from working in a ministry because of their health or spiritual needs. Arrange a way to help them continue to grow in their walk with the Lord and rest a while.
Learn about the people in and around your ministry.
Boaz learned about the type of person Ruth was. “And Boaz answered and said unto her, It hath fully been showed me, all that thou hast done unto thy mother in law since the death of thine husband: and how thou hast left thy father and thy mother, and the land of thy nativity, and art come unto a people which thou knewest not heretofore.” Ruth 2:11,12
Make good use of your time by learning about those who are around you! Making conversation and listening to people will help you find out all types of things about them. Ask others about them (no gossiping!) and find out the good things you can do to be able to minister to them.
Ministry Tip: Make notes of what you are learning about others to help you remember their birthday, favorite foods, relatives, and any other type of information. This may sound weird in some respects but if you’re prone to forgetting specifics it may be an aid to help you minister more effectively.
Invite outsiders to be included in your regular church life.
Ruth, as a Moabitess, could have easily been overlooked or ostracized for being a foreigner in Boaz’s fields in Israel. She probably had some significant differences in appearance or dialect but Boaz made sure she was included in the meals the servants shared. See Ruth 2:14, (written above).
Make it your job to personally include people who are different. This could include: race, financial status, appearance, etc.
Invite them to services they do not attend, functions within the church (Bible studies, fellowships, prayer meetings), or be hospitable and have them in your home. Including people makes them feel loved and accepted in your church family. Inclusion, not a clique type of inclusion, creates a bond that will help people to grow in the Lord and in their fellowship with the other Christians in your church.
These three principles were a part of who he was that made him a great leader, I’m not sure he calculated every conversation to meet a specific leadership criteria but rather just was genuinely a person who cared deeply for God and for others and thus made a difference. May we be people who live our lives out to serve others as an extension from our relationship with God and this job we do in ministry touch people’s lives for eternity!
In the next article we will cover more principles that Boaz included in his life, so stay tuned for Part 2.