Workplace Devotionals

March 18, 2010

Boaz the Negotiator

Filed under: Uncategorized — ejwcpa @ 10:16 pm
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I often think about how to be strong and aggressive in the workplace while continuing to maintain a Christian attitude.  When I look at people who have had success; have become presidents, CEO’s or partners; I see that their lives are often riddled with debris: divorces, kids they don’t know, and sometimes enemies.  Along the way, some have found that the only way to get to the top is to step on heads or live a life that sacrifices their families.
I’ve never wanted to become like that but I don’t want to be pushed around in the workplace either.  So how do Christians maintain a Christian character while also being successful business men and women?  Can we negotiate advantageous transactions while also being Christian?
I like to find Bible examples of good businessmen, and such a story is found in the book of Ruth.  You know the story, Naomi and Ruth go back to Judah, Ruth being a Moabite widow and both women childless with no men in their lives for social or economic protection (gender roles were much different during this time than in our modern America).
Ruth meets Boaz, a man in good standing who looks favorably upon her.  Naomi also recognizes the opportunity in Boaz, a close relative of some kind, who can redeem the land owned by Ruth’s late husband as well as Ruth.  In order for Ruth to properly own the land and carry on the name of her husband’s family, she and the land needed to be redeemed by the closest available relative.  While Boaz was close, he was not the closest.  That takes us to the story in Ruth 4:1-12.
Notice in verses 3-4.  Boaz craftily asks the man if he would like to buy this land that is available.  It’s good land, it’s for sale, he has the first rights to buy, he’s helping out a relative, and I would guess it’s at a good price.  But Boaz doesn’t give the whole story outright, just that it’s for sale, baiting the would-be kinsman-redeemer into accepting the offer.  Then, just like an infomercial – “Wait! There’s more!”  If you buy this land you also get to take Ruth as your wife.
With the way Boaz crafted his offer to the other kinsman-redeemer he was able to secure the transaction in his favor.  But throughout the transaction, he maintains his honesty and integrity.  He never lies; he conducts himself in public, at the city gate, and in front of the elders.  It is not a back alley deal, he doesn’t try to pay off the other party; he’s just a good negotiator and businessman.
In conclusion, I think this story is a great example from the Bible in which someone successfully negotiates a transaction while also maintaining their Christian character and integrity, and is an example we can follow in the workplace.


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