On Thursday, we farewelled Shane Viglione, our dear brother who is now with the Lord. Some have asked whether we should have a memorial plaque for him but if you knew Shane that is the last thing he would have wanted. But it is right to honour those who serve Christ so well. So let me take this opportunity to share what my brother and dear friend taught me over the 15 years I had the privilege of knowing Shane Joseph Viglione.
1. Be thankful in all things
Shane never grumbled. He was a man who was deeply thankful not just when things went well but even when they did not. For example, after he was diagnosed with cancer and given 2 years to live, we organised a prayer meeting where two hundred people gathered to pray for Shane and his family. As he left the prayer meeting, Shane said to Amanda with tears in his eyes, “Why me, why me…?” I asked Shane later if he meant, “Why did I get cancer?” but he said, “Why has God been so good to me? All my life I have been so blessed.” From his salvation to his wife Amanda, from his children to his work, Shane knew that every good gift comes from God.
2. Be joyful in salvation
Shane loved Jesus and delighted in his salvation. Whenever Shane talked about Jesus dying for his sins you could be guaranteed he would be in tears. It was a running joke in the family. “Don’t get Dad to read the bible he will cry…” I loved seeing his joy in Christ. He reminded me of the privilege it is to be a son of God.
3. Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought
When I interviewed Shane at church after his diagnosis I said to him, “Some people are saying ‘how can God allow this to happen to such a good person?’” Shane’s response was crystal clear. “Why not me… I am a sinner. I am no different to others”. He knew that he was a great sinner and that Christ was a great saviour.
4. Be humble
You could know Shane for 10 years and not know that pound for pound he was at one point the best Judo practitioner in Australia. He represented Australia in the Commonwealth Games in New Zealand and was probably cheated out of a bronze medal. I talked more about his Judo success than Shane did. The same goes with his work. He was a successful businessman but he never boasted of his success.
5. Keep your head in all situations
I have seen Shane in lots of meetings and under lots of pressure but not once did I ever see him lose his temper. Can I say that again NOT ONCE! He handled pressure without panicking and could think clearly when things were tight. At various points in the year, church budgets would go in the red, sometimes really red, but Shane never panicked. “We will be alright”, he would say. “God will take care of us”. And he did.
6. Love your wife as Christ loved the Church
Let’s face it; most people I know were jealous of the Vigliones. They seemed to have the perfect marriage. What Shane taught me was to not only tell your wife that you love her but to tell other people of your love for your wife. After 22 years together, Shane and Amanda would still send lovey dovey text messages to each other as if they were 16 year olds who had just fallen in love for the first time. Shane constantly told me how much he loved Amanda. I realised I had to unlearn the ugly Australian tradition of not speaking well of your wife in public. Even on his deathbed, only days from the end, Shane was singing a Dr Hook love song to Amanda while he was heavily sedated with morphine.
7. Children are a gift from the Lord
I think Shane’s favourite command must have been, “Go forth and multiply”. Each one of his 6 children was an absolute joy to Shane. He was so proud of Ethan, Isaac, Joel, Elijah, Moriah and Phoebe. Although he was a busy man at work, and busy serving the church, Shane and Amanda never tired of taking their children to youth group, kids club, music practice… etc etc etc. They both felt that raising children who loved and served Jesus was their first priority.
8. Have a good reputation with outsiders
Shane was a great boss. Normally when a person from church works for a Christian boss or organisation, I take them aside and lower their expectations. I prepare them for what often happens: Christian bosses do not always act like Christ. But I never had to do this for the many people I knew who worked for Shane. I learnt that a long time ago. I have not worked for Shane myself but many have consistently testified that he was a genuine boss who cared for the worker more than the profit margin. Even when a worker stole from him, he would hold the person accountable but still try to show them grace.
9. The more that is given, the more that is required
Shane knew that everything belonged to God, so the more that things went well in the business, the more he was generous. Many of you have been on the receiving end of that kindness. Shane understood his success was not the result of his work but a gift from God, and he understood that the more that is given, the more that is required. So much more can be said about Shane. I count it such an honour to have known this man. I don’t know why God took him home at this time with such young children. I don’t know why God did not allow Shane to ever enjoy the church building that he was instrumental in building. What I do know is that Shane was jealous for Jesus and he would want us to live life for the glory of God, and make every moment count. So imitate Shane as he imitated Christ.
Your sad but thankful brother in Christ,