In the Bible, servants are characterized as being humble, faithful, obedient and diligent — all characteristics that earned 1974 alumnus Ronald Phipps the Timothy award.

The Timothy award recognizes alumni for sacrificial work done behind the scenes.

From 1964-1993, Phipps pastored and/or served on many church staffs in Ohio, Indiana and Michigan. Since 1993 he’s worked at the Missionary Church denominational office in Fort Wayne, Ind., as support ministries coordinator where he does just that — supports. Phipps’ duties focus on “staff support and things that need to be accomplished,” he says. These behind the scenes activities include website support resources, statistical gathering and reporting, software training and support for office staff, producing video training for church planting, training Spanish for Hispanic ministers, producing promotional material for U.S. ministries and providing technical support for various meetings and Web conferences.

“Ron asks for no recognition,” writes Tim Matteson, a Bethel employee who has worked closely with Phipps at multiple conferences and youth events throughout the years. “But when he’s thanked he smiles and says, ‘I just want to be helpful,’ or, ‘it was a pleasure to work with you.’ He sees a need and his first instinct is to serve.… Ron understands that equipment is replaceable, people are not. … He looks at people with compassion and serves them with a rare graciousness.”

Maintaining and fostering relationships is important to Phipps, who initially came to Bethel to pursue a musical career. After getting involved in a gospel team — the Gospel Four quartet — Phipps felt the Lord directing him to change his major from music to biblical literature during his sophomore year. Phipps was obedient.

“The influence of professors — just the whole college scenario —played a role in that [career change],” he says.

But it’s the connections that Phipps has maintained throughout the years from Bethel that have meant the most.

“When I went there in the ’60s, you knew about everybody in every class,” says Phipps of Bethel. “It was not a drive-in community type of school. In that era, I feel, there was much more of a family. And, anytime you have a family — a good family relationship — those relationships impact you in your personal relationships and in the direction in which you end up going. I’m proud to consider myself a Bethel alumnus.”

Although he didn’t pursue a degree in music from Bethel, Phipps still sings lead in the Gospel Four quartet alongside the three original members. He’s served as music director at several churches and he and his wife served as song evangelists.

“I got my education at Bethel College, but I got much more,” says Phipps. “It’s not just an education, it’s a whole relationship.”

Even though Phipps may play the supporting role in a cast of characters, his service is felt by many.