A servant leader

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Cassville Area Chamber of Commerce awarded its prestigious Distinguished Service Award to a very deserving individual this past Saturday night. Bill Shiveley is known to most as the manager and chief executive officer of Barry Electric Cooperative. He excels at his job and is known as a hands-on "working manager." But Saturday night's award recognized Bill for the countless hours he spends doing whatever it takes to improve and assist the Cassville community. This is a role of Bill's that is not as well known as his position at Barry Electric, because Bill is the type of person who doesn't like to get credit for his volunteer work. He's one of those people who likes to work behind the scenes. In fact, I'm sure he was embarrassed about the recognition he received on Saturday, but we could tell he was honored and humbled by the honor, and as usual, he was very gracious in accepting the award.

Just to give our readers an idea of Bill's involvement in the community, let us share just a few of the positions he currently holds. Bill serves as chairman of the Barry County 911 Emergency Services Board and as a deacon and Sunday School teacher at Emmanuel Baptist Church in Cassville. Bill is also a member of the First State Bank Board, the St. John's Hospital Board, the Tri-State Trucking Company's Board and the Cassville Chamber of Commerce Board. He also finds time to serve coffee to fishermen on opening day at Roaring River State Park, replace the burned out Christmas bulbs on the buildings around the square each year and drive the church bus on Sundays. Bill, who is also a Navy veteran, is an avid bike rider who raises thousands of dollars for the MS Society each year through the MS150. And maybe most importantly, Bill is a devoted husband, father, friend and mentor.

My husband and I got to know Bill and his devoted wife, Dianne, when we decided to train for the MS150 a number of years ago. Although I was very fearful that I would never be able to complete the 150-mile ride, Bill was one of the first to tell me I could do it. His dedication and energy were contagious, and his kind words and helpful instruction during practice rides kept me motivated. In the end, I was able to complete the ride, which I consider one of the most satisfying physical accomplishments I have ever achieved, and Bill and Dianne were a big part of that achievement.

In my dealings with Bill, I have discovered that he is a man of his word who is willing to do whatever it takes to meet needs when he sees them. No job is too big or too small for Bill. He is one of those people who leads by example, who knows what needs to be done and then gets in there and works side by side with everyone else until the job is done. In other words, Bill personifies the attributes of a servant leader.

I have also been impressed with Bill's humility and his kind and loving spirit. He is an encourager and someone who lives out His faith in deeds rather than words. Anyone who knows Bill at all knows he loves his church and seeks to show Christ's love to each and every person he encounters.

In this day and age, when society seems deprived of positive role models, Bill is a man that our youth would do very well to emulate. He has integrity and character, and above all else, he is other-centered rather than self-centered. He lives to serve and as a result he has become a quiet pillar of this community - a person who others look to when they want to get something done.

And to quote the words spoken by Susie Jacobs, the chamber's outgoing president, "Bill, with grateful appreciation we give you a heartfelt thank you for who you are, what you've accomplished and what you have given back to your family, your work, your church and your community."