Minister of Administration for Communications is my title at South Main Baptist Church. I, along with my Communications Team, facilitate timely, accurate communication being provided and heard. On a good day, my job supports all other ministries. In addition to my title, my calling to the ministry is all about making connections....connections between congregants and staff, between staff members, between people and spiritual gifts, and even between people and information. I received an amazing gift this year - an 8-week window of time for learning and rest, for making even better connections. My instructions for this sabbatical were to unplug from my usual work, to rest and rejuvenate my soul, and to learn new ways to accomplish my job to benefit South Main Baptist Church.
Unplugging is hard for me. In the world of communications, there is always brainstorming, organizing, writing, proofing, posting, and distributing to be done. When one's schedule revolves around weekly deadlines, the pressure of getting ?news? spread in the right way on the right channels is constant. By Wednesday of my first week away, I stopped waking up thinking about work. The 2nd week my brain stopped subconsciously running through the calendar ?it's Tuesday?.what emails need to get sent today??
Unplugging and taking a break from the routine naturally leads to rejuvenation.
However, I quickly learned that more was needed to ?rejuvenate my soul? than just unplugging from work. My choices needed to be intentional. I was cautioned that, ?it will be your fault if you don't come back rested.? Two types of activities seemed necessary to rejuvenate me: reconnecting with family and friends and learning new things.
I had scheduled family time with both immediate and extended family into my itinerary. I started my journey with our annual family beach trip. It was the first beach trip in my childrens? memory that didn't include my working at some point. Rebecca started calling me Sabbatical Susan. I spent some time in Houston reconnecting with non-South Main friends, which rejuvenated my heart and soul. To rejuvenate my body, I hired a personal trainer for the first time. I also rejuvenated my mind. I had not previously been a podcast listener, so I started setting time aside for that. Bill and I had a ?staycation? mentality and attended plays, musicals, and sporting events. All of this was restful and rejuvenating. By week 7, I commented to my family, ?I finally feel relaxed, like I've let go of the stress.?
For the other goal of my sabbatical, I sought out people who would help me analyze the gifts of the Communications Team, in order to make the whole system better and more efficient. I met with Natalie Aho, a communication specialist, for 3 days. We conducted an evaluation of each SMBC communication channel and dreamed about the most effective way for our Communications Team to operate. I visited churches, both in person and online, to get a feel for how other congregations welcome guests and communicate their message. I missed our worship tremendously; yet it was rejuventating and renewing to worship with other believers. Over the next weeks and months, I will be asking you, the congregation, for feedback as appropriate changes and improvements are implemented.
Taking a break is important to keep the pipeline of fresh ideas flowing. I was reminded what a special place South Main is. Thank you for the gift of time, learning, and rest. Thank you for a life-giving sabbatical.