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Alex Bartlett is a graphic design resident with The Austin Stone Community Church.

With the Time that's Left

 
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Well at this point I think it's best to just shoot straight with you all. It's been a few months since my last update and I feel I should apologize for the pause between updates. I promised you guys an update every month and I haven't done that recently, so please forgive my silence and please don't see that silence as ungratefulness! 

I've been thinking a whole lot about what might be next. Since January I've been mulling and praying over where I might go when my residency at the Stone finishes up (a date that is a little TBD which I'll talk about a just a minute). You see if I were to make checkboxes for all the pros I would like a job to have, I think this job really does check a whole lot of those boxes, with few to no cons on the right of the page. I work well and get along well with every single one of my coworkers on my team, my boss is pretty relaxed yet demands good and thoughtful work, my team has fun together, cares about our church body and how we can serve them, and on and on. For pros, it seems that this team and this job has it all covered, which has caused me to be a bit stuck recently as I've tried to search for answers then as to why I feel still pulled away from ministry being my next job once I finished up here.

The short answer is that I don't know, but as I talk with my boss about it, and I try to be open and optimistic about either option, I find myself saying I'm ready to step into something new.  Maybe by July that will change, but for now, I've begun prepping resume and portfolio to begin the hunt for what job might be next.

In my time of blogging absence, I also went to Thailand with three good friends and made some pretty unique memories that I'm really thankful for. Between some elephant rides, Bengal tiger baths, and endless amounts of incredibly delicious Thai food, my favorite part was getting to have some really great conversations with my friends; about life, work, the future, what's next for me or what's next for them. In all it had been a while really since I'd taken a real week-long vacation so not only was it good to get out of Austin for a bit, but I was thankful for its spring break timing because it served as a fantastic time to bounce off thoughts about my residency and time in a ministry job with good trustworthy friends.

Spiritually, the three months have been a bit difficult and it hasn't been until just recently that I've really become aware of it. It's almost as if I had forgotten that I had been lulled to sleep by the enemy. Though task-wise it's been great, having gotten to work on three or four really strong portfolio-worthy projects, as the weeks slipped by I think I actually a little confused as to how I could continually feel just a little more lonely and depressed with things seemed to task-wise be going really well. Thankfully one of our pastors recently talked about the struggles of working in ministry and how to flourish in ministry which has helped re-spark my engines and focus. He gave five really good points but I'll just share the biggest one that's helped me get back on track which is to know your Savior. Really boring I know, but it might almost be comical how easy it actually is for me to forget to do this working at a church. There's a difference in talking about God and talking to God. Just like there's a difference in someone telling you about God and you reading and learning that same thing for yourself from Scripture. Sunday messages can be really powerful, but they shouldn't be the most powerful moments you have every week. I really forget the necessity of knowing my own Savior when I hear talk of Christ all day long. My heart so easily gets lulled into a trance, believing that because I hear it, I think it, therefore I don't need to believe it for myself.

And that's really dangerous in ministry, to not actually know whom it is you're trying to point others to. I'm so thankful God has woken me up to this tendency I have.

Lastly, a little housekeeping. As always I want to say how thankful I am for each of you being a partner and financial supporter. It literally means so much to me that y'all have decided to support me when I stop and think about it. Even through difficult twists and turns of having to switch from the first giving system to now PushPay, and with a few more difficulties on my end with our residency administration mixing and changing, you guys have been so great through it all. You've been faithful to support me way beyond what I could have imagined and I'm so very appreciative of each one of you.

With that said I've recently learned that I'm about $500-$1,000 short of reaching the support total that I need to stay through July here at The Austin Stone. If I'm honest it's a bit difficult to ask you guys for more as I'm already on the prowl for what job opportunities could be next. But I do want to finish out well here at the Stone. I know I've asked a lot of you guys so I ask that you only give more if reading this really prods your heart to step in and do so. I would be foolish not to extend the offer so if you'd like to help make that happen, here's a link to where you can give.

https://pushpay.com/g/austinstoneinstitute

I believe that whether I finish up in June or July, I'll be able to finish up well and on great terms with my team. I'm still excited to be attending the Stone and in Austin with whatever job might be next, but the point of everything I've been doing and learning here at the Stone is to then send me out. So as I get ready to go out, I ask that you would be praying for my heart more than my job offer. I'm confident that God will lead me to wherever I should be next, but for the next few months, I want to be with Him more, to know Him better, and to be in His presence even so much more often than I ever have before.

In all, as April begins, I'm trying to show up to work each day and remember that I believe in a living and active God, who cares deeply for me and every single person around me. Outside of that, there are a lot of numbers to think about, future decisions to be made, and so on. But for right now, know that I'm not worried what the future will bring whether it be bad or good. For the same God that led me into this crazy, awesome, and challenging two-year residency will surely not abandon me as I step out into whatever might be next.

 
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