the end of ysmarko

this is a hard post to write, but an important one for me.

i’ve experienced some pretty significant a-ha’s in the past week or two, all around the sustainability of my lifestyle, my identity, and my most important relationships.

a month and a half ago, i started a leadership coaching process with john townsend. and i was asked to talked about myself at the first gathering. i wrote a bit about this on this blog (the whole plate spinning thing). since naming that, i’ve had a few more words to describe the dissatisfaction i’ve been feeling about my life; but i still felt way short of clearly understanding what i needed to do about it.

then, last week, on our ys leadership team retreat, we were spending some time talking about blindspots and roadblocks. to make a long story short, it became very clear to me that two things consistently eclipse the relationships and values that are actually most important to me (especially at this stage in life and work):
1. my family
2. the staff of youth specialties

the two imposters that constantly threaten (or supercede) the things that are most important to me are:
1. my travel schedule
2. being the voice of youth specialties (or, to put it in a more negative way, “nurturing my public persona”)

here’s a thought: our behaviors –> reveal our priorities –> which reveals our true values.

here are a couple photos i snapped in new zealand (ironically — mr. travel) of the “community lounge” on the back side of a church

i took these pics because i thought the sign and location of the “community lounge” said something significant about this church’s value of community. in other words: they might have a community lounge, but they don’t seem to actually value community.

this is a metaphor for why i’m making some big time changes.

i’ve been having a value stand-off, between what i say my values are and how i’m living my life. and it’s eroding (and threatening) my long-term happiness, and the life i really want.

let me get to the point:

1. i’m going to stop nurturing the whole “ysmarko” thing. which means, starting today, i’m going to stop using facebook (i’m planning on deleting my facebook account tomorrow), and stop twittering (i’m going to delete my twitter account tomorrow), and this is my last blog post on ysmarko (at least for the foreseeable future, though i’ll leave the blog sitting here for now).

2. i’m also reframing what “essential travel” is for me, which is allowing me to cut back 50 – 75% on my travel. i won’t be traveling internationally in the next year or two (or ever?), other than our canadian convention. and i’m cutting back on all other travel, other than a few truly essential things as well as family-related and personal stuff.

i know this is going to be hard in many ways, and i’ll likely go through some form of withdrawal. but i’m also excited about the new focus, extra time, and relational presence i expect to experience in the coming months.

i’ve enjoyed the interaction i’ve had with so many of you through this blog, and pray god’s blessing on you, as i ask you to do for me.

128 thoughts on “the end of ysmarko”

  1. Marko,

    I’m so happy for you in this transition. Although I have enjoyed reading your blog, I have thought on numerous occasions that your life seemed way too busy. I pray that as your life becomes de-cluttered that God will bless you in ways that you can’t even comprehend. Keep listening to the voice of God.

  2. Good. This is an example to all of us. Thanks Marko.
    …And thanks for CPK at Catalyst. This is that Jeff.

  3. Feels like a strange irony congratulating you in this medium for your decision.

    Hope I get to shake your hand and give you a hug and tell you in person soon.

  4. i’ll be straight-up honest with you:
    1) i’m completely inspired by your desire to have your actions and values line up.
    2) i’m completely bummed because yours is the only blog i read every day–others, just a couple times a week.

    i totally respect your decision, but i’ll certainly miss the blog. maybe down the road you could consider a weekly post, because let’s be honest: you get the point of blogging. i for one will miss your blog-writing skill.

  5. Hey Marko,

    I can’t tell you how excited I am for you. I’ll miss your bits of wisdom and randomness (& often foolishness, haha). But knowing that you’re adjusting your values and taking that step Jesus has called you to far surpasses the thrill I’ve had reading any of your blog posts the last few years. Take it easy, breathe deep, and know that I’m proud to serve teenagers alongside of you. Thanks for everything!


  6. Why are people urging Marko to reconsider this, as if this was just some rash decision he’s making? The man is doing what he feels he needs to do to maintain his priorities in life, and continue to provide for others as he has for all this time. Even the best among us have their limits.

    Kudos, and I tip my hat to you, Marko. Take care, and see you around.

  7. Awesome. Yet again, another example of authentic living for the sake of an authentic life in Christ. Go with God!

  8. Really respect the decision, and interested to see what it does both for you and the world of youth ministry.

    Gutted as you’re one of the few youth ministry blogs I regularly read.

  9. Mark,
    I’ve often wondered how you had time to do all you do, while at the same time taking care of yourself and your family. I’m glad you are making the changes you feel necessary. May you be an example to us all.


  10. You may not read this as you change tracks, but I have to admit I had always wondered if my time managment skills were just really bad as I read about everything that you kept up. Thank you for continuing to be transparent even in your online relationships where it is so easy to be superman.

    In Christ, In Life

  11. Hey Marko,
    thanks for the many great words you have written and I look forward to listening to you and hearing from you in the future whatever that medium is. This however may be the thing that most connects with me. Thanks for your example!

  12. Yo Marko,

    I’m glad you’re prioritizing. It’s one of those really hard-to-do things, but needed if you’re going to be as effective as possible.

    The only thing that sucks is I never won the Caption of the Week contest and it looks like I’ll need to find another place who offers give aways for a pointless caption to a pointless photo.

    Hmmm, I wonder if Car and Driver has something like that?

    Blessings brother!


  13. Wow. That is big, Mark. I can’t imagine that this decision was very easy. Like Len said, thanks for the challenge! I am for you!

  14. That was a good day in Auckland. I enjoyed the coffee and the conversations. I’m looking forward to them again soon – regardless of how much I enjoy the blog, for feeling connected as much as anything else – there’s nothing better than the real thing.

    Here’s to plenty more of the ‘real thing’ in your life, friend.

  15. Hey Mark-
    I never knew Yak except through his writing (notwithstanding the shirttail relationship by marriage to my husband’s family), but I think he is really proud of you. It’s a good decision, and I will miss you in the blogosphere. It would be nice to hear from time to time how you are doing.

    I probably won’t be going to the NPC anymore; I was never a pastor, but I did thoroughly enjoy the opportunity to meet some of the authors who have been very helpful on my journey, most especially NT Wright. My journey is also taking a new turn, as I will be received into the Orthodox Church on 7 June. I’d be happy for your prayers as well. May the mercies of God surround you and your family always.

    Dana- the one who gave you the tip about vinegar :p

  16. We’ll miss you in blogland! here’s to finding rhythm and rest
    in your real world. thanks for blessing us in both the real and the virtual.
    praying for you in the transition and withdrawal! and looking forward
    to seeing you in real time soon!

  17. Marko, I will miss your sharing little parts of your life and experiences. I have come to enjoy the few moments with you each day. I read you note and I thinking you may be making the right decision here. I will continue to remember you in prayer. Hopefully I will get the opportunity to briefly touch bases with you when you are here in LA.

    Take care my friend as you continue your journey.

    In His Grip, Mike …

  18. You have the right idea. I think you’d find it enlightening to read the book “One Month to Live” by Chris and Kerry Shook.

    After I read that book, I started really thinking about how I’d live my life if I had only 30 days left, and it definitely puts your priorities in order.

  19. I’ll miss having my daily dose of Marko, but it seems like the right thing to do! With the amount of people that must be trying to contact you through all these different social networking (blog, twitter, facebook), I can’t imagine how you would get anything else done! Thanks for letting us know what’s going on instead of just disappearing – I totally disagree with the ‘grandstanding’ comment before; I think it would have been rude/confusing to not let us know where you went and why! Thanks for all you do!

  20. Marko,
    I’m way proud of you for being so intentional. Erwin McManus (Chasing Daylight) said “our influence is much more powerful than our authority”. Your very personal decision will inspire more than you know!
    See you this fall.

  21. Sounds like you need it, and way to go on making the sacrifices needed.
    Thanks for the insights and games, hope things go well for you once you’re unplugged from all this.

  22. I am wondering how long it will take for fakeYSMarko to show up on facebook like like fake Tony from tonymorganlive.

    that being said I appreciate your decisions.

  23. But…..but….. what about Value Pac? Never forget Value Pac!! Though this blog may cease, Value Pac must live on in our remembrance.

  24. Another thing I will miss is your book reviews…but I have a pile of those books on my dresser waiting to be read so it is probably a good thing – I wonèt have to buy any more until I get those read!

  25. I will make Jeopardy trivia as the last person to win a Marko caption contest!!! YESSSSS!!!!!

  26. Much respect for people like you that can make the hard decisions. You encourage the rest of us. Peace and love in Christ.


  27. Marko, I’ve enjoyed reading your posts, and I understand where you’re coming from. I especially enjoyed your WYD posts from Sydney, and hope we’ll see you in Madrid in 2011. See you at NYWC in LA. God bless!

  28. Marko, Like many others I have often wondered, “how in the world does he have the time to post this many times in one day?”

    Like a junkie, I have relied on your for a daily fix for years now. Great job simplifying! Thanks for living openly to us.

  29. Wow! Wow! wow! Well I enjoyed it all. Thanks for brightening my day, I always read your blog right after my time with God, reviewing the day ahead and then your blog. Well I hope you are able to branch out in your ministry at YS and at church.

  30. I too have cut back on my own blog and can totally relate. I’d like to share something with you-it’s similar to what you shared in your blog:
    Look carefully at what Jesus teaches: behavior follows belief.
    Spiritual maturity is demonstrated in a life as an outcome of the condition of a person’s heart and soul.
    It’s a quote from UnChristian by David Kinnaman
    While I’d like you to keep blogging, I know it’s not what’s best for you. I came to the cross road myself and wish you well my friend. Take care and God bless-I’ll see you at the National Youth Worker’s Convention though :)

  31. Marko,

    I’m not a full time pastor or youth worker. I’m just a layperson who’s been involved in the ministries of our church in many different age groups. I love reading your blogs to find new ways to connect and reach out to the kids, to be entertained occasionally, and to be turned on to new stuff, be it games, books, sites, or other stuff. Your blog also turned me on to Youth Specialties, and I’ve really appreciated using your material as I teach and lead. I understand your wish to cut back on stuff like this, but I just wanted to thank you for the impact you’ve had on me and countless others that aren’t in full time ministry. God bless you and your family, and your church.

  32. Day 1 without Marko’s online presence…

    Facebook? Okay. Twitter? Hardly check it myself…

    But the blog I miss already.

  33. Way to go Marko! I’m super excited for you. I’ll miss your blogs, but I think this is an awesome next step. Leaders must lead, thanks for unplugging from the things that were taking away from your relationships. This is inspiring me to take a look at what my priorities are.

    God Bless you and your family!

  34. Totally respect the decision marko. I just wanted you to know how much I appreciated your blog and your sincerity for advancing the kingdom that shined through. God Bless!

  35. Marko,

    I have to applaud you for this decision. I have been thinking hard the last few weeks about how much of my day I spend on Facebook. On average I spend at least 5 hours A DAY playing pointess games when I could be doing important ministry things – like finihing YM 3.0 and Youth Culture 101. I tell myself eery day “tomorrow I’ll only be on for an hour before work.” But I haven’t been able to break that habit yet.

    So, while I am fairly new to the YS Marko scene and feel I am once again missing the boat, I want to celebrate your victory with you, Mako. I know that the Lord will bless you in this decision. When you do start facing withdrawl (and thinking “But Facebook is a great way to connect with the youth..”), know that you are putting first in your life What Matters Most.

    Blessings to you and your new focus.

    In Christ,


  36. Marko, I’m so happy for you and your family. Although I’ll miss reading your blog, I’m so glad for the example you are setting of putting the important things first. That speaks even louder than anything you could say on your blog. I pray that God blesses and strengthens your family and that you will be able to cherish the new time and energy you have to invest in relationships. God bless you brother, I’m proud of you.

  37. Marko – As always, thanks for sharing your heart with honesty and transparency. Seriously, blessings on you and your family as you embark on this new journey. I’ll definitely miss your insight, wisdom and humor from this blog, but knowing that you’ll be more present for your loved ones is more than worth it. Now that you’re moving to an offline focus (although I’m sure you’ll still be plenty busy), let’s try to catch up in town sometime :)

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