When looking for leadership examples in the bible, there are many! We are all aware of the leadership skills of Moses, Nehemiah, David, and most importantly Jesus, but as a young woman I desired more, particularly someone that I could relate to. Thankfully, through prayer, I received another leader. This woman of God was only discussed in reference to another person, for whom an entire Book was named. Yet, the qualities and guidance demonstrated by her are important and impactful, as her posture sets precedence for women of today. Young women, like me, are seeking leadership and direction, and this woman displays love, compassion, patience, wisdom and insight, as sought by today’s Christian woman. My selected biblical leader is Naomi.
As a Christian single parent, I continuously seek to strengthen my relationship with God. In this pursuit, I still have the same desires as any other woman, to have a strong man of God to cover and lead my home. Unfortunately, I have found that the dating rituals of the world, although troubling, have also become “unspoken” acceptable dating requirements in the church as well. This is very confusing to “babes” who are not able to discern the true goals of the pursuer, especially the goals of men that can "talk the talk" and pray your pants off (LOL) with biblical fluency. According to 1 Thessalonians 5:13,
And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone
we are to influence and encourage others. It is now that single believers need strong Christian women to purpose in their heart to guide the young women of today, as our future is in their hands and they will be held accountable.
Naomi, in the book of Ruth, was the leader I was lead to learn more about. Naomi has moved to the city of Moab with her husband, Elimek, and two children, Mahlon and Chilion, due to famine in the land of Israel (Bach and Exum). Immediately following the first harvest, Elimelek died and Naomi raised her sons, in a foreign land alone. Both sons grew and eventually married Moabite women. Both sons and their wives, Orpah and Ruth, lived with Naomi for ten years.
Not long before the harvest, in the spring, both of Naomi’s sons died. Although she was with her daughters in law, and the Lord had blessed their city of Moab with bread, Naomi longed for her homeland. En route to Bethlehem, Naomi begged Orpah and Ruth to stay in their homeland and find new husbands, but in divine loyalty, Ruth proclaimed,
Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God (Ruth 1:16; KJV).
Upon the return into Bethlehem, Naomi seemed bitter, but Ruth stayed with her and even sought to support them by gleaning a barley field. Upon selecting a field, Ruth immediately found favor of the owner because he had heard of her loyalty to Ruth. He allowed her to eat and glean until the end of harvest. Naomi was excited because the owner of the field was a relative of her husband Elimelik and she then began to set God’s plan in motion.
We all know the beautiful story that follows, due to the presence of God upon Naomi and Naomi’s guidance of Ruth. Boaz, the kinsmen redeemer, later marries Ruth and together they bore Obed. Obed bore Jesse who then bore David the King and mighty worshiper.
The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and he delighteth in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the Lord upholdeth him with his hand. (Psalm 37:23-24)
Often offered to women for guidance in dating and marriage, the book of Ruth is the story of dedication, patience, and love. Much emphasis is placed upon the relationship between Boaz and Ruth, without much regard to Naomi. Likewise, Naomi, bitter and mean after the loss of her husband, isn't how one normally characterizes a leader, nor would one seek to learn more about her. However, upon further review, I noticed the importance of Naomi as the hand of God worked through her to effectively lead Ruth to Boaz. Naomi pressed through her pain, and allowed God to use her, resulting in substantive life changes for herself, Ruth and Boaz. Again, inherent traits that were built upon and demonstrated by Naomi’s life and not through any proclamation which are the reasons I was lead to Naomi.
As discussed by Dr. Myles Monroe, “leaders are often ordinary people who accept or are placed in extraordinary circumstances that bring forth their latent potential, producing a character that inspires trust and confidence in others”. Naomi had an extraordinary circumstance. She was “alone” in a foreign land, after the death of her sons, with no hope for the future. Naomi, an older adult, with little resources, wanted to return home to her people and her God. In effort to go back home alone to wallow in sorrow, Naomi pushed her daughter in laws to stay in their own land. However, her vision for better in Bethlehem and her influence, as the mother of Ruth’s late husband, led Ruth to follow Naomi. Although the relationship between Ruth and Naomi is never discussed, Ruth’s dedication to Naomi leads us to believe that this woman of God lived a life filled with love and compassion.
Naomi lived a life full of ups and downs, similar to many of us today. However, in her desire to serve God and her family, she led a young lady to marry and successfully begin the lineage of King David. No, this woman of God was not heralded for guiding Ruth to Boaz, but as young woman seeking the leadership of a strong Christian woman, I appreciate and celebrate Naomi’s strength and leadership. It was her love that strengthened the relationship with Ruth, and led Ruth to seek a God and land she did not know. When God appoints and anoint a leader, even in bitterness, he will continue a good work, which in this situation improved the situation for both women. Yes, Naomi defines a strong biblical leader, and all Christian women need a Naomi in our lives.
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