Servant Award—Ironic and Iconic
The last thing that humble Christian servants want is attention for their service. But since Christian service is precisely what DCC wants to inculcate, it is fitting that there be an award that honors a servant’s attitude and behavior. Thus, we have the Servant Award, instituted in the 1990s and determined by vote of the students alone, without faculty/staff input, honoring the student who most clearly exemplifies Jesus’ service to others.
And wouldn’t you know that junior student Blayze Lingo, when asked about the award this year, immediately named the person who he thinks should have received it instead of himself—his roommate Malik Mckenzie. Blayze even inquired into the voting and learned that, yes, it was a close contest—a fact that made him feel better, though he still thinks his roommate should have won. “He’s had an impact on me, to serve more. He inspires me to go out of my way to serve. I use him in stories all the time as my example.”
And isn’t that just the way it works? While one bad apple can corrupt a bushel, so also a good example inspires others to be good. (So, although this article is about the winner, hereby may it also acknowledge Malik and every other humble Christian servant.)
Blayze is keen on this principle of influence. He himself has been mentored along the way by a youth pastor and a Christian family who have shared their home with 18 kids over the years besides their own three sons. They have inspired Blayze to have that open-door policy, too. He wants his own home to be that way, and his dorm room already is, with a couch where friends hang out, talk, and unload. And that youth pastor is the one who got him started on his walk with Christ and has inspired Blayze in the path of youth ministry.
Blayze knows how much others have influenced him for Jesus, and he does the same for others. Last week his youth-group discussion was about fear. While his kids replied, “spiders,” “snakes,” “heights,” and “the dark,” Blayze told them, “My greatest fear is leading a life unworthy of Christ. People are always watching. I don’t want to do anything that is going to hurt my witness.”
Blayze didn’t start going to church until one of his best friends died. This friend had always wanted Blayze to come to church with him, and after his death, Blayze went, in 2007, in Cashion, Oklahoma. The youth pastor took him under his wing, even taking him to Boiling Springs Christian Service Camp that summer. “For the next three years,” says Blayze, “I was the youth group.” But influence is influence, and by the third year, he got one of his best friends to come. That friend brought his friends, and in one year, youth group went from one member to thirty. When Blayze finished high school, that congregation wanted to hire him right then as youth pastor.
Blayze knew he wasn’t ready for that yet, so instead he moved to Elk City, Oklahoma, where he had a job, a church, and that Christian family to move in with. In his two years there, he was hired as part-time youth pastor while also working in the oil fields.
It was this congregation that decided Blayze needed to go to Bible college so that they could hire him fulltime as youth pastor. The minister, Jeff McDowell, told him one day, “I signed you up.” Without ever filling out an application to any college, Blayze was enrolled at DCC.
Although moving to Dallas from the country was a struggle—concrete and traffic instead of hills, trees, ponds, and horses—Blayze adjusted and got into church life in Dallas, serving with Valley View Christian, Cornerstone Christian, and now Central Christian in Richardson. This summer he’ll be taking kids to camp but also serving as the speaker for a week at Guadalupe Christian Camp. He has also spent some time checking out various Dallas churches, large and small, in order to prepare better for youth ministry back in Elk City. In every instance, he has always prayed for God to show him opportunities to serve.
Asked why students would select him for this award, he replies, in total humility, “I just try to be available to people. I’m always ready to help.” He bought a pick-up rather than a sedan simply to be able to help people haul stuff (which has sometimes led to trouble—but he’d still rather be ready to help). He knows it’s tough balancing others’ needs with his own, “…but I’d still rather serve.” He (and Malik) are both good Samaritans, handing out meals they have just bought for their own lunch and stopping to help people near death on the roadside (they have literally saved lives that way).
Whatever campus activity is going on, Blayze will be there, from Service Day to sports events to music recitals. He leads a small group in the dorm, leads in dorm devos on Thursdays, leads the Monday night Encounter worship time, participates in Friday night’s Fire (begun by Zach Sharp over a year ago), and leads the youth group at Central on Wednesday nights. He firmly believes in encouraging the community. Director of Development Mark Worley, who has known Blayze since Boiling Springs days, says, “He is a ‘kid-magnet.’ Coming from a difficult home life, he fully understands the lives of young people who have experienced difficulties. He truly does have a servant’s heart, ready to help anyone in need.”
Blayze stays in school with no financial support from home. He has struggled financially but has also seen God provide. “My faith in how He provides has grown stronger, and I can share that with others and encourage them.” No matter the situation, he finds a way to use it for others.
For many years, the tangible Servant Award was a plush white towel, but recently it has been a small sculpture of Jesus washing a disciple’s feet. Blayze Lingo deservedly now owns two of those statues—last year’s and this year’s.
Dr. Cara Snyder is professor of English and literature at Dallas Christian College and managing editor and senior writer at the Cornerstone.