a year-long speaking sabbatical

ok, time to admit some very-painful-to-admit truth: my life is completely out of control these days.

really, it’s my travel schedule. that’s it. i’m not out of control in other ways.

but my travel schedule is causing me to be somewhat disconnected from my family and from the people i work with. i love the stuff i travel for (well, most of it); and so much of it seems “essential”. i’ve had a bit of a cyclical thing going for a few years, where my travel gets to be too much, then i make an adjustment, and have a season where it’s ok again, then back around again to insanity.

this past summer, our whole family was home together one week. we were together quite a bit, so i didn’t feel overly disconnected from them, but i felt really disconnected from my ys relationships. this fall, my travel hasn’t let up much, but my family hasn’t been with me.

something had to give.

jeannie suggested a few weeks ago that i consider taking a year-long sabbatical from outside speaking engagements (optional stuff, non-ys). i instantly hated the idea, because i love being with youth workers on their turf, and i love talking about jesus and the kingdom of god to students, and… well… probably because it makes me feel important and special to do stuff like this (if i’m really honest). oh, and the extra money i make from speaking always comes in handy.

i’ve been stewing on it and praying about it and pondering it for a few weeks now. and this past week jeannie and i decided the following:

from may 1, 2007 through may 1, 2008, i will take a one-year sabbatical from speaking at events that aren’t part of my work at ys. i only have two non-ys things in this window: one is a trip to ireland, and my dad is going with me (so there’s alternative value to the trip), and one is a large youth event for churches in the florida panhandle and southern alabama, and one of the churches is my grandma’s church (so there’s alternative value to the trip).

from now to january 1, 2008, i will not entertain any speaking engagements. if someone wants me to consider something past may 1, 2008, they’ll need to wait until at least january of that year to ask, or i’ll have to decline.

we’re hoping that, after taking this full-year pause, we’ll be able to discern how much i can add back into my schedule without taxing my family or co-workers.

this is really hard for me. i don’t want to do it. i don’t like it. but i’m really convinced it’s the right thing to do. and choosing to do it feels like an issue of obedience to god and a commitment to my priorities in life.

24 thoughts on “a year-long speaking sabbatical”

  1. Good for you, Marko! 20 years from now you will not be missing those speaking engagements at all, but you would miss that time with your family greatly. You’ve made the decision of a Godly man.

  2. Hey Marko, God is going to bless and honor that decision in ways that you can’t even imagine. Check out Proverbs 8. You have found it! Way to go man.

  3. I know that is tough. I will pray that God grants you peace about your decision.

    BTW, when are you coming to the FL Panhandle and what is it for? I live in Pensacola and would love any opportunity for my workers and my students to hear you. Thanks, see you in Cincinnati!

  4. Marko
    I had to make pretty much the same decision earlier this year. I gave up a “job” with my national denomination that I loved, and I got to travel and do things I’m good at. But in the end it began to negatively affect some vital relationships in my ministry. Like you I HATED the idea, I fought it for almost 9 months but finally went ahead and stepped down.
    It’s too early for me to say that there’s been a great effect but I’m hopeful. My prayers are with you.

  5. Marko-thanks for setting an example by doing this. I really appreciate your openness and willingness to share this with us, to be transparent, and to do what is tough. I think God will honor this and it will be something that will make you even more of a blessing to those of us in the trenches. I second Daves motion and I am in Pcola as well so hopefully I’ll get to see you there!

  6. I hope this time is exactly what you need, I’m glad you are taking it, when I just read the snippets of what you do on this blog I’m like “If I had his schedual, I’d die…”

  7. Marko,
    Just want to echo some of the previous comments…Thanks for setting an example and being willing to be open and honest to share your thought process with us. I have only been married a little less than two years and I have already learned that too many times as youth workers we preach a God first, family second, ministry third agenda that we sometimes have a tough time living out…Thanks for making it more than just a slogan and modeling it for others.

  8. wow marko. i don’t mean this to sound patronizing at all – but i am so proud of you. thank you for leading the pack yet again with your example.

    simplicity and sacrifice are such difficult spiritual disciplines, but we have learned in our marriage and choices we have made that they pay big rewards in connectedness and wholeness all around.

    thank you.

  9. In case you need someone else to give you a big thumbs up, here I am! :) Thanks for setting the example we all need to follow.

  10. If you’re ever in the Chicagoland area during your speaking sabbatical, you’re welcome to come to worship at the church I serve — and not speak.

  11. 15 comments and no one has mentioned Mike’s “Speakoholic” article!

    Honestly I think speaking may be the most over-rated thing in ministry. Useful – but waaaaay over-rated.

  12. bro, I know this will be difficult on several levels, but is sounds like a good decision. Also, you might consider setting some boundaries in advance for YS too. There may be a temptation for you to fill your schedule with a bit more ys travel.

    just some thoughts.
    thanks for your vulnerability man!

  13. Speaking as a wife, I think it’s awesome that you seriously considered Jeannie’s counsel (even though you didn’t like her idea at first) and made her a part of this huge decision. That had to speak volumes to Jeannie in terms of how much you value her. I pray your time of sabbatical will also be a time of growth and greater intimacy in your marriage.

  14. Marko, I’ve been reading your blog for over a year or so now,
    and though I don’t know you personally, this just makes my heart sing. I think of the many times when Jeannie has shouldered all the home duties as you’ve travelled, and I think of your pancreas screaming out at you. I think of Lars’s comments about Billy Graham’s regret. Good on you brother, and on Jeannie, and blessings to you all.


  15. Man, there goes my plans to have Marko and his family to NC to visit OBX …. now I might have to settle for Toc. LOL.

Leave a Reply