Tuesday, April 17, 2012

My Tax Internship: Not as boring as the title indicates I promise

As many of you know, who are regular ‘followers’ of my life, I finished up my tax internship at Condley & Company today.  It was a wonderful experience and I will again express my thanks and gratitude to everyone I worked with and who taught me much about the life of an accountant.  I would like to use this time to reflect on my time working in the business world, not necessarily the particulars of the company I worked with.  Again, the company was wonderful.
As a Christian I ask myself time and time again, “Am I furthering the Kingdom?”  Just last Wednesday I gave a speech in front of more than a 1,000 ACU students and I said the exact same thing.  Am I using my talents for God’s work?  (See last blog post to read my speech).  As a business major at ACU I battle time and time again with that very question.  Working as a tax intern I hit the question head on. 
My days consisted of working on tax returns day in and day out with the exception of a few business returns mainly for oil companies that I would input oil and gas royalties.  My interaction with my fellow employees was great, and I made some great friends and I loved working with the fellow interns and sharing an office with a fellow employee.  So, the interaction was not minimal where I just crunched numbers all day, but again I asked myself, “Am I furthering the Kingdom?” 
I would do tax returns and see names, income figures, and events that happened in their lives that would affect their Adjusted Gross Income, and such, but I would have no interaction with the clients themselves, which was fine.  The partners have the benefit and responsibility of handling all client interaction.  I would set in my office and do the return not only correctly, but trying to minimize taxable income for the taxpayer to the best of my ability.  I believe that is important in the grand scheme and definitely critical in client retention to a company for keeping clients.  But, did you ever feel like you were destined for something bigger? 
Don’t get me wrong a tax accountant is an excellent and prestigious job, and my bank account has never been so satisfied after my time at the firm.  But, the question I continually faced was where should my heart and bank account meet?  There’s only so much you can do where you ask yourself was this worth it?  Is the money worth it? 
God has shaped my heart for the better where my motives are slowly becoming more Christ centered, rather than world.  When I came out of Leakey High School I was on a mission to earn money.  Now my mission is to earn respect and save souls.  I hope I am doing that in my interaction and my testimony with others, but for now I am continually learning how to best serve others.  I do enjoy when people on campus mistake me for a Bible major, it makes me feel like I am doing something right without having to take Greek. 
While I do not know what God has called me for I do know that my heart is being torn towards different jobs and people.   When I listen, when I look at what God has done in my life, my testimony, and in my interaction with others I see that God has a plan for me.  Will I ever discern His Plan?  No, probably not, but I will give it my best shot and when I make a career choice I pray that my wallet not be in the decision. 
For when I pray I ask

Thy Kingdom come.
Thy will be done in earth,
As it is in heaven.

I hope that you pray for me that I can see what God wants done in my life.  I know it is something amazing and special.  I question if I should have been a Bible major time after time, but I trust in His plan.  Whether I wind up being a tax accountant, a family/tax attorney, or even a preacher I pray all glory goes to God.  I want people to see my heart and not the initials after my last name or the degrees on my wall.  I again will close my blog with a quote from A.W. Tozer:

“It is not what a man does that determines whether his work is sacred or secular; it is why he does it.”

Thanks for reading,


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Joseph Austin for SA Treasurer

Hi my name is Joseph Austin and I am running for SA Treasurer.
I have enjoyed my time at ACU immensely and am honored to be running for SA Treasurer.  I believe I am qualified for the position based on my service as SBC Treasurer, my work in Student Financial Services and Financial Operations here at ACU, my participation in Student Trading and Research (which handles a portion of ACU’s endowment), and my current tax internship at an accounting firm here in Abilene. 
So, I want you know that I am qualified to be your treasurer, but the reason I really want to serve is to be involved in students’ lives, not just helping with their finances.  I want to do much more than just handle your money; I want to support every student I come in contact with.  Accounting comes naturally for me, but working for the kingdom of God is a challenge I hope to embark on with all of you if elected for Treasurer.  Because as I stand here, I am going through the same struggles that we all go through as Christians with our faith and with God and how to best serve his Kingdom.  I will be genuine and sincere with you in every possible way, and I will try to take every opportunity here at ACU to do God’s work. I see serving as your treasurer as an ideal place to use my talents for God’s kingdom.  I love the students at this university, and I want to serve the life of this community however I can.  ACU has not just taught me how to reconcile a balance sheet, but how to think missionally about professions – how God created us to be teachers, physicists, artists, speech therapists, ministers, and even accountants for his purposes.  As Dr. Lytle says, “More people go to work than go to church” – and our mission field is unending.
            Let me tell you a little more about why I want to be your treasurer.  Last October was a time of many transitions in my life, and those changes brought my spiritual life to a crossroads.  I began seeking new ways to serve and encounter God, and I eventually became connected to a wonderful community of people at Middleton Unit, a prison complex on the north east side of town.  After going through security and having empty pockets, I walked in with no possessions, but the prisoners greeted me like the President of the United States.  They welcomed me and loved me for who I was - not for any title or position I had, but for the common bond of Jesus we possessed.  The humility and compassion I discovered there profoundly affected me, and what began as a volunteer opportunity became a powerful source of growth as these men touched my heart with sincerity and repentance I cannot express.
            My audience today is a little different from the community at Middleton Unit, and there’s a higher percentage in here that would understand a Glen Coco reference from Mean Girls than who know what a cell block is, but the message is clear.  I want to serve you as your Treasurer, but I know the blessings I would receive through my service to the ACU community would far outweigh that which I would bring. At ACU, I found my passion for helping others with money and serving the students I love in the name of Christ. 
I want to leave you with a quote from A.W. Tozer: ““It is not what a man does that determines whether his work is sacred or secular; it is why he does it.”

I’m Joseph Austin and I would appreciate your support for SA Treasurer.