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ETBU students recognized for Christian servant leadership

October 9, 2019

East Texas Baptist University recognized two students on Monday, October 7 for their service to the campus and community. Seniors Lane Craig from Marshall, Texas, and Helen Sperling from Quitman, Texas, were awarded the Bob and Gayle Riley Servant Leadership Award during a special chapel service. ETBU President Emeritus Bob Riley and his wife, Gayle, presented the students with a replica of the “Divine Servant” statue, created by Max Greiner, which stands outside of ETBU’s Ornelas Spiritual Life Center.

“When Bob and Gayle Riley arrived at East Texas Baptist University to serve as president, they began a work of creating an atmosphere, a culture that honored servant leadership,” Assistant Provost for Academic Affairs Emily Prevost said. “We still see so much of that every day on our campus as our students are striving to become servant leaders. The Rileys worked to ensure that the legacy of servant leadership that they began while they were here would endure long after their presidency ended.”

The Bob and Gayle Riley Servant Leadership Award is given annually to two upperclassman students, who exemplify the characteristics of a Christian Servant Leader. Peers, faculty, and staff nominate students in recognition of their commitment to Christ’s model of servanthood. During his time as president, Dr. Riley established the award to promote the attitude and behavior of Christ-centered servant leaders among students at ETBU.

“Philippians 2:7 says that Jesus took the very nature of the servants, becoming a servant in his demeanor, personality, and nature. We are blessed to provide sculptures about servanthood outside the back doors of this chapel as a reminder to all of us the importance of serving those around us and around the world,” Dr. Riley said. “I always believed that ETBU will continue to raise up as servant leaders now and in future generations as they make a difference serving God in their organizations.”

Helen Sperling was announced as this year’s female Servant Leader Award recipient. Sperling is a mass communication major, who has served in numerous roles throughout her time at ETBU including resident assistant, Tiger Camp leader, and Titus discipleship leader. She has also committed herself to intentional mentoring of other students at ETBU to provide them the kind of support and encouragement she longed for as a freshman.

“Christian servant leadership is a posture of the heart, one that we should tune our hearts to every day,” Sperling said. “It’s about looking like Jesus, never is it or should it be about you.”

Lane Craig, a religion major, was announced as the 2019 male Servant Leader Award recipient. An active student on ETBU’s campus, he serves the University in various organizations including Baptist Student Ministry, Kid’s Club, Tiger Camp, Rec-Team, and Men’s Ministry. His leadership extends beyond the ETBU campus and into the Marshall community through volunteer roles in BGCBP, First Priority of America, Mission Marshall, and at Travis Elementary and Price T. Young Elementary. He has also served in churches as a student ministry volunteer and student intern.

“Because of various service opportunities, God has shown me His calling for my life and has led me into a deeper understanding of what the character of a Christian Servant Leader looks like,” Craig said. “I have recognized the power and necessity of community. Alone I cannot live out the mission to serve the people in my community, but instead as a Christian Servant Leader, I must trust, rely, and serve alongside fellow brothers and sisters to serve others.”

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