In the story of Naomi and Ruth, Naomi takes an active role as mentor to her daughter-in-law. While Naomi, a Judean, was living in the foreign land of Moab, her husband and two sons died. At this point, Naomi was left with her two daughters-in-law. When Naomi chose to go back to her homeland, one daughter-in-law, Ruth, went with her.
At this time, both widows were destitute and left with nothing after the men died. However, Naomi continues to be a good mentor and counselor to the younger Ruth.
“And they lifted up their voices and wept again; and Orpah kissed her mother-in-law but Ruth clung to her. Then she said, ‘Behold, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and her gods; return after your sister-in-law,’ But Ruth said, ‘Do not urge me to leave you or turn back from following you; for where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God. Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. Thus may the Lord do to me, and worse, if anything but death parts you and me.’ When she saw she was determined to go with her, she said no more to her.” (Ruth 1:14-18)
It seems very clear in the scripture that Ruth understood Naomi could be a good teacher to her. She did not leave and go back to her own people. Instead, she traveled to a land where she knew no one and nothing so that she could stay with her mother-in-law. This is the beginning of a very strong mentor/mentee relationship.
Boaz and the Fields
When Naomi and Ruth returned to Naomi’s homeland, they had nothing. So Naomi told Ruth to go out in the fields after the workers were done for the day and pick up any leftover grains she found.
Naomi counseled Ruth in a way to provide for the two women without stealing and without breaking any laws. This is a good example of mentorship. Even in the face of starvation, the older woman remained calm and came up with a method of taking care of the two. This shows that a mentor should work to make the proper decisions, and in doing so, they can teach their mentee to make proper decisions as well.
“Then Naomi, her mother-in-law, said to her, ‘My daughter, shall I not seek security for you that I may be well with you? Now is not Boaz our kinsman, with whose maids you were? Behold, he winnows barley at the threshing floor tonight. Wash yourself therefore, and anoint yourself and put on your best clothes, and go down to the threshing floor; but do not make yourself known to the man until he has finished eating and drinking. It shall be when he lies down, that you shall notice the place where he lies, and you shall go and uncover your feet and lie down; then he will tell you what you shall do. ‘She said to her, ‘All that you say I will do.’” (Ruth 3:1-5)
In these verses, we can see how Naomi was a good mentor, but also Ruth was a good mentee. Naomi understood that part of her role as a teacher to Ruth was to help ensure Ruth took the right path in life. The women would not have continued to survive if Ruth did not find security in a husband. Naomi understood this. She also saw that Boaz had already been kind to them (telling his threshers to leave extra grain for Ruth to find). She knew that they were essentially at Boaz’s mercy and she instructed Ruth what to do.
At the same time, Ruth continues to show that a mentee who does have a good mentor should continue to follow what their leader says to do. Not once did Ruth question what Naomi told her to do.
The Start of a Great Lineage
“So Boaz took Ruth, and she became his wife, and he went in to her. And the Lord enabled her to conceive and she gave birth to a son. Then the women said to Naomi, ‘Blessed is the Lord who has not left you without a redeemer today, and may his name become famous in Israel. May he also be to you a restorer of life and a sustainer of your old age; for your daughter-in-law who loves you and is better to you than seven sons, has given birth to him.’ Then Naomi took the child and laid him in her lap, and became his nurse. The neighbor women gave him a name saying, ‘A son has been born to Naomi!’ So they named him Obed. He is the father of Jesse, the father of David.” (Ruth 4:14-17)
This end of the story certainly shows how powerful mentorship can be. Throughout their lives, Naomi remained a guide and mentor to Ruth. As a result, Ruth found a loving husband and a good life. She had a child, and her child wasn’t just any baby. He was the beginning of the lineage of David who was one of God’s most favored kings. Even more than that, it was the marriage of Ruth and Boaz that would one day lead to the birth of Christ.
In this case, mentorship has so much power that it stated a wheel in motion. That wheel would lead to several wise and well-known kings as well as the savior. Through the mentorship that Naomi gave Ruth, God arranged things so that His son could be born.
While Naomi and Ruth probably did not know what was to come in the future, they are an exemplary example of the mentoring relationship and just how powerful this relationship can be.
Know that I am sending you the best that God has to offer you and I will see you up, up, and over the top.