Ryan Linkous receives Barnabus Leadership Award

Ryan Linkous, junior biblical studies in languages major, serves in various capacities on campus and in Jackson. | Photo by Ebbie Davis

By Katherine Pullen, Staff Writer

Ryan Linkous, junior biblical studies in languages major and winner of the Barnabas Leadership Award, wears a wide-banded silver ring on his left-hand middle finger engraved with the words, “Greater is he that is in me,” from John 4:4.

One might assume the striking token holds special significance for the student of theology but its meaning is not quite so deep. Linkous claimed the ring from the lost-and-found in McAfee Commons where he spends several hours a week manning the desk as a resident advisor for the Heritage Residence Complex.

After two weeks in the lost-and-found, Linkous said, unclaimed items are up for grabs. He has not given up hope of returning the ring to its original owner, but Linkous said he wears it because the owner is more likely to see the ring on his hand than in the corner of a dust-covered box.

Linkous’ expertise is not limited to the rules of McAfee Commons’ lost- and-found, however. He is in the academic Top10 percent of his class, was admitted into Alpha Chi National College Honor Society and has served in many leadership capacities both on and off campus.

His favorite subject is Greek, and Linkous is in his second year of study. He describes Greek as an excellent tool for deepening understanding of the Bible but clarifies that just because “you know Greek, the secrets of the New Testament aren’t unlocked to you.”

Linkous said when he was taking his first year of Greek — which required a lot of translation work — the hour he spent translating Greek every day was “the most relaxing hour of the day.”

He hopes to gain a strong foundation in the language and use it in ministry, either in a pastoral position or as a teacher or professor of biblical studies or theology.

Linkous already is involved in ministry through City Fellowship Baptist Church, where he serves on the finance committee. He participates in the Regional Inter-Faith Association chapel and soup kitchen every Sunday and helps with Area Relief Ministries’ Room in the Inn homeless outreach during the winter months.

On campus, in addition to his duties as an RA, Linkous serves on the Student Activities Council and School of Theology and Missions Student

Advisory Council. Previously, he has been a Life Group leader and Hundley Center tutor as well as taking part in annual service projects as part of “Campus and Community: A Day of Remembrance and Service.” Linkous served on the Global Opportunities week leadership team in 2010 and 2011 and participated in a GO trip to Memphis in 2010.

The Barnabas Leadership Award is given annually to two members of the junior class who have demonstrated leadership in the area of community and ministry service. Thirty juniors were nominated this year by faculty, staff and students.

On his application, Linkous described servant leadership through the story of Jesus washing his disciples’ feet in John 13.

“In Jesus’ service, he provides for a real need the disciples had,” Linkous said. “He does not serve to boost his resume or so that he may become a leader, but he serves because there is a need.”

Toby Brown, assistant director of student leadership and engagement, said a committee reviews applications to “see what each student has contributed in ways of leadership and service on and off campus as well as how long they have been involved with such organizations.” –

Brown said Linkous was chosen because he became involved as a freshman with organizations at Union and in the Jackson community and has continued working with them throughout his time as a student.

Linkous plans to give $200 of his $500 award to Indigenous Outreach International, a missions agency based in Jackson.

To congratulate Linkous on winning the award or to reclaim your engraved silver ring, track him down in McAfee Commons, where he will probably be studying Greek.

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The Cardinal & Cream is a student publication of Union University in Jackson, Tennessee. Our staff ranges from freshmen to seniors and includes a variety of majors — including journalism, public relations, advertising, marketing, digital media studies, graphic design and art majors.