Here I sit at my place on Providence Avenue in Austin. It’s a fitting street name.
As I look out the window, the grass is green. Kids are playing outside. It’s like stepping into a different world. I’ve just spent a few frigid weeks back home visiting friends and family in Illinois – and despite the cold, I loved every minute of it! My goal for the trip was to reconnect with many of the people who have been a part of my story in bringing me to the Austin Stone Community Church as a worship resident. I cherish the moments I spent talking with old friends, catching up with my family, and embracing my faithful supporters. I will always look forward to coming home because of the special people that will be waiting for me there.
Believe it or not, I’m halfway through my first year of residency! This means that in a year and half, I’ll be wrapping up my residency at the Austin Stone and moving on to wherever God calls me next as a worship leader. Here’s a few of the big ways that I’ve grown through the residency so far:
- I’ve grown in my confidence.
If you know me well, you know that I’m naturally a timid person. Im an introvert who prefers to sit on the fringes of a party. It’s never been easy to get me to come out of my shell. The support-raising process demanded that I break free from my timidity and walk in confidence. God taught me through that process to lean on Him more than ever before and to find my confidence and strength in Him and in His provision. He’s given me an appreciation for the little tribe of believers who have gathered around me as my support-raising family. Through this residency, God has called me out of my comfort zone into a deeper trust and confidence in Him.
- I’ve grown in my professionalism.
The residency requires a high level of professionalism and the ability to carry out a seemingly never-ending list of responsibilities and weekly tasks. Most of the new residents at the Austin Stone are surprised how much working here feels like working at a fortune 500 company! The culture is fast-paced, productive, and has a high level of energy. I’ve had to develop my skills as a self-starter, and I’ve had to learn to effectively manage my time to maximize its value. I’m thankful to be challenged to develop and grow in these ways! Ultimately it’s better preparing me for the ministry that lies ahead of me beyond the residency.
- I’ve grown in my abilities as a shepherd and as a musician.
I’ve spent a lot of time in the residency learning what it means to pastor people through music. I’ve been able to learn from some of the best worship pastors in the world. They’ve taught me what it means to lead a worship band, disciple others, and how to create beautiful music that leads others to authentically praise Jesus through song. I get the chance to lead worship with my band every week for the Students ministry at our North Campus (this is essentially the Austin Stone’s version of youth group), and my supervisor gives practical feedback on how I’ve led each week. It’s been incredibly challenging and helpful! Beyond that, I have time scheduled each day to spend practicing guitar and growing in my skill as a musician. My growth and transformation in these areas has been invaluable. Where else would I be able to undergo this kind of development?!
- I’ve grown as a man of the Word and prayer.
As a first year resident at the Austin Stone Community Church, I’m required to take a class called the Men’s and Women’s Development Program. I’ll admit – when I first found out about the class I wasn’t very excited. The idea of class never sits nicely with a guy fresh out of seminary. But I’ve found this class to be incredibly fruitful. The truths we’ve learned and the scripture we’ve studied and memorized in class have hit my heart in a fresh way. I love Jesus more now than I did before I started the residency. It’s helped me to truly become a better student of the Word, and a man more connected to God through prayer.
To those of you who have faithfully supported me financially and through prayer – thank you so much! I am grateful beyond words for the way that you’ve stood behind me. My experience in the residency so far has been incredible. It has been, and will continue to be, a transformative experience – sharpening my skills, and leading me into greater knowledge, faithfulness, and fruitfulness for God’s Kingdom. I wouldn’t be here without you. Here’s to looking forward to another year and half!