candle lighting another

Boaz: A Leader Who Went the Extra Mile

Leaders must be generous, predisposed to give their resources to others. They believe a candle loses nothing when it lights another.

No one models this better than Boaz, the spiritual leader who became Ruth’s husband. He owned a large field, and like other landowners, employed reapers to gather his harvest. When the reapers finished, the less fortunate were allowed to “glean” in the field, taking whatever remained of the harvested crops. Ruth was one such person.

Boaz’s generous spirit surfaced immediately when he saw Ruth. He asked the reapers about her identity and then expressed his generosity to her. Boaz displayed his generous leadership in several ways:

1. He was generous with his compassion (Ruth 2:8–9). He told Ruth not to glean anywhere else; she would get all she needed from him.

2. He was generous with his compliments (Ruth 2:11–12). He noticed her sacrifice and complimented her efforts.

3. He was generous with his courtesy (Ruth 2:14). He invited her to join his staff for a meal, kindly serving her all she wanted.

4. He was generous with his crops (Ruth 2:15–16). He told his reapers to put out extra bundles of grain for her to find.

5. He was generous with his credibility (Ruth 3:11–13). He showed respect by doing what was right by her request.

6. He was generous with his commitment (Ruth 4:9–10). He committed himself to ensuring that Ruth’s former husband had offspring to carry on his name.

You can give without loving, but you cannot love without giving. Leaders who fail to display generosity should ask themselves, Do I really love the people I lead? When great leaders err, they always err on the side of generosity. If they err in paying salaries, they err in paying too much. If they err in firing a staff member, they err on the side of excessive emotional support, severance package, and affirmation. No leader gets ahead by mimicking Ebenezer Scrooge.

Jesus talked about this generous spirit when he said, “If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles” (Matthew 5:40–41).

A generous spirit drove Boaz to go the second mile with Ruth, even before he suspected she might become his wife. (He assumed she would be attracted to a younger man, Ruth 3:10.) Even so, Boaz gave her extra time, attention, grain, respect, favor and honor.

How about you? Who would describe you as generous?

By John Maxwell. Article drawn from the NIV Maxwell Leadership Bible

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