Ruth and Parables: Small Group Leaders Guide Week 11

Study Guide / Produced by Individual TOW Project member
Discussion group

This content is part of the Ruth and Parables curriculum, an 11-week integrated sermon and small group series on faith and work.

Topic 1 – Pay attention when you feel inspired to say YES!

Read Ruth 1:6-18

Question set 1

Leah explored the possibility that what Ruth wanted most in life was to be Jewish—to be a person sought and chosen by God. That could be why she, a Moabite, married into a Jewish family. For a while her dream was fulfilled, but then her husband and all the other men in the family died and she was left Jewish, but destitute. What happens when you get what you most want in life, but you’re not happy?

  1. Leah said she felt insulted by Naomi’s words to Ruth and Orpah: “Go back to your mothers’ homes,” (Ruth 1:8) and to her friends in Bethlehem: “The Lord has brought me back empty” (Ruth 2:21). What is Ruth, chopped liver?
    1. Have you achieved a long-desired success, then felt like the people surrounding it do not accept you or value you? Or some other major disappointment following a success? What did it feel like?
    2. Do the deepest dissatisfactions you feel today come primarily from not (yet) getting what you desire in life, or instead from getting what you desire, yet not feeling satisfied?
  2. Logically, Naomi was correct, and Ruth would have been better off going back home and starting over. But it seems that some divine YES welled up in Ruth that led her to stay with Naomi. Is there a divine YES welling up in you? What is it?
  3. How do you know that a Yes Tour is not just wishful thinking?

Topic 2 – Be a go-getter

Read Ruth 2:2

Question set 2

  1. Ruth’s plan doesn’t seem very confidence-inspiring. “Let me go out into the harvest fields to pick up the stalks of grain left behind by anyone who is kind enough to let me do it.” But ultimately that simple step leads to her marriage to Boaz. When have you decided to try something that you were not sure you could complete? How did it work out?
  2. Leah said that sometimes a good day consists of getting all the bums wiped. Just do whatever task is next. How does that fit in with the motto “impossibly great lives?”
  3. Leah said she observed a woman having a wonderful time with her kid at the beach. (Leah almost always has an awful time at the beach with her kids at the beach because of the hassles of food, diaper bags, sand, sunscreen, near-drownings, etc.) The woman had dreadlocks, so Leah thought “If I dread my hair, I’ll be like that woman.” Now Leah has dreadlocks, but she still has an awful time when she takes her kids to the beach. Taking action did not make her into a different person. How can you be a go-getter when your dream is for God to change you?

Topic 3 – Let God play a long game

Read John 10:1-6 and Matthew 1:5

Question set 3

  1. “God gave your dream to you because he wants to be present in your reality.” What are the sharp edges of your reality? What could it possibly mean that God wants to be present in exactly those places, when what you want is for God to take those places away?
  2. “Getting your dream will not make everything perfect.” By marrying Boaz, Ruth fulfilled her dream—or at least the dream Leah projected on her—of becoming a Jew. But did her life become perfect? Perhaps God’s long game wasn’t even about her life—maybe it was about her great grandson, David, Israel’s greatest king, or her 30-times-great grandson, Jesus. What if your life (or work) really is just about wiping the kids’ bums, and God’s long game only scores its goal through those who come after you?
  3. “Let God play a long game.” What do playing and games have to do with your dream? Is your dream just a game to God? Is it OK if God is playful with the things that are most important to you? And why did Leah get so many laughs in a talk about getting everything you want, yet not feeling happy?