Nothing pleases me more than seeing Ruth’s name in lights—especially when I know it is the ezer-warrior version of Ruth (rather than the Cinderella version) who is getting the attention.
Ruth was in the spotlight again last week at Kensington Church in Troy, Michigan and will be now for several weeks as they engage a Bible study series on the book of Ruth. The backstory of how she got there in the first place was an unexpected encouragement for me.
The lead pastor at Kensington Church/Troy Campus, Danny Cox was assigned to read three books for a class at Fuller Theological Seminary: Wilmer G. Villacorta’s Tug of War: The Downward Ascent of Power, Andy Crouch’s Playing God: Redeeming the Gift of Power, and Malestrom: Manhood Swept into the Currents of a Changing World.
He said all three books had a profound impact on him and spoke a lot about the chapter in Malestrom on Boaz, “The Power of Power.” Boaz led Pastor Danny to my other books and also to invite me to speak at the kick-off for Kensington’s church-wide study of the book of Ruth.
If you haven’t read that chapter or my other books on Ruth, Boaz embodies a redemptive view of male power and privilege. His encounters with Ruth the Moabitess—in his barley field and at the threshing floor—are the epitome of power and powerlessness. The power differential between them is extreme. Yet not once in the entire story does Boaz surrender his male power and privilege. Instead, he employs his male power and privilege fully to empower Ruth so that her initiatives succeed on behalf of Naomi and Naomi’s family.
The book of Ruth is both a powerful man-story and a courageous ezer-warrior story.
The example of Boaz couldn’t be more relevant and transformative in our current #MeToo world, and the men I met at Kensington Church/Troy get that. Male power and privilege can inflict horror and life-long scars on those less powerful. Or they can be a force for good, for the healing, flourishing, and empowering of others. The version of male power and privilege that Boaz projects doesn’t come at a loss for men either, even though he makes enormous sacrifices. In the end, he stand taller—taller I’m convinced—than any other male figure in the Old Testament. He is a leader in the recovery of the masculinity God entrusted to his sons in the beginning.
By the time I arrived in Troy, members of the church leadership team were reading Malestrom and Half the Church, a church-wide study of Ruth was starting, and the church leadership team was already engaged in discussions about relationships between men and women—a.k.a. The Blessed Alliance—and how that impacts their leadership.
And if all of this was not encouraging enough, hope exploded when I met Theo—grandson of Steve Andrews, the Kensington Network’s Lead Pastor and Co-Founder. Who knows how promising the future can be if the little men of Troy catch this vision early!?