Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Business Tips from Boaz

Business Tips from Boaz
By Brenda Black

Dog eat dog corporate climbing and greedy management never modeled an ideal business, yet many buy in to selfish and spiteful tendencies to look out for number one at all costs. And look where it got us. Stock market crashes. Corporation bailouts. Factory suicides. Company closings. If only we would run business more like Boaz, we might see success, integrity and generosity make a comeback and businesses thrive again.

A successful business is run by a boss like Boaz. Watch how he treats his staff in this example from Ruth 2:4a: “Just then Boaz arrived from Bethlehem and greeted the harvesters, 'The Lord be with you!'”

Boaz addressed his employees as friends and cheered them on in their work. He didn't threaten pay cuts or lay offs. He did not speak condescendingly to them. He never raised his voice in anger or publicly scolded or shamed a worker. He treated them with respect and offered encouragement. He blessed his crew and they blessed him too.

“'The Lord bless you!' they called back. (vs. 4b)

Imagine an office filled with smiling clerks and department managers. Envision the greater productivity of contented employees. What a difference a kind word and a humble demeanor can make when the CEO treats his staff with respect instead of disdain. Boaz was the real thing. He ruled with a loving spirit rather than an iron fist and it rendered great success. He was a man of means, but he was also a man of standing. Boaz' business style was respected in the community.

A successful boss knows the company – how many men and women, their assignments and their duties. I think Boaz must have expertly discerned the difference between involved supervision and micro-management. He was on location when the sun beat down and he slept on the damp and hard threshing floor right along with the laborers when the sun set. Such attentiveness helped him notice a new face one day at the work site.

“Boaz asked the foreman of his harvesters, 'Whose young woman is that?'

“The foreman replied, 'She is the Moabitess who came back from Moab with Naomi. She said, “Please let me glean and gather among the sheaves behind the harvesters.” She went into the field and has worked steadily from morning till now, except for a short rest in the shelter.'” (vs. 5-7)

A successful boss makes new employees feel welcome. “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 my servant girls. Watch the field where the men are harvesting, and follow along after the girls. I have told the men not to touch you. And whenever you are thirsty, go and get a drink from the water jars the men have filled.

“At this she bowed down with her face to the ground. She exclaimed, 'Why have I found such favor in your eyes that you notice me – a foreigner?'

“Boaz replied, 'I've been told all about what you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband – how you left your father and mother and your homeland and came to live with a people you did not know before. May the Lord repay you for what you have done. May you be richly rewarded by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge.'” (vs. 8-12)

Imagine the relief Ruth felt to be welcomed. Think about how helpful the thoughtful and explicit orientation Boaz offered that covered employee rules, breaks, safety and provision. I'd say her on-the-job interview went quite well. Integrity on the part of the one hiring, as well as the one hired, provided the perfect combination for success. He and she both would benefit.

Gratitude for good workers is a rarity. Respect for those who oversee is even less demonstrated these days. If 21st century executives and laborers would bring to the business their best, likely mutual admiration would exist as it did between Ruth and Boaz.

If Boaz hasn't yet received your nod for “Boss of the Century,” wait till you see his generosity.

He said to Ruth, “'Bring to me the shawl you are wearing and hold it out.' When she did so, he poured into it six measures of barley and put it on her...” (vs. 15)

A successful business is run by a boss who will go the extra distance. Boaz' bonuses weren't parsimoniously doled out. He gave generously and he imparted with purpose. Boaz not only blessed his workers, but he blessed their families.

Imagine a bread-winner arriving home from work feeling satisfied and rewarded for his efforts. Envision families whose needs are met through the noble efforts of their wage earner and the generosity of the business owner who pays fairly and esteems the works of the laborer. Business as usual would look entirely different and there would be no need for bankruptcy, welfare or bailouts. Boaz got it right when it comes to business – he worked as unto the Lord and he hired those who shared his vision. He communicated clearly and kindly his expectations and the employees worked for him joyfully. Instead of failure and loss, a Boaz business profits all involved – in more ways than money.

Follow the Boaz business model “in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work...” (Colossians 1:9-10)

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