In a new post on the Resurgence, church-planter and former Sojourn pastor Dustin Neely writes about keeping watch on your family dashboard so that your family doesn’t burn up or burn out like a bad engine. Here are the three gauges that he explores: 1. The speedometer. This is the “pacing” question: are we moving at a healthy pace that we can sustain, or are we running in the red? We can’t just monitor the things from ministry that directly include us, but we must also factor in the other things that make life what it is: soccer, gymnastics, the kids’ school, health, marriage, money, and home repairs. Never make this pace assessment alone. Men are not typically emotionally intuitive and can be blind to the relational redlining occurring. If you don’t believe me, just ask your wife. She will tell you the real truth.
2. The RPMs. This is the stress question. How hard are we pushing to make this thing go? Are we shifting gears smoothly in our relationships or are we “grinding the gears” like a 16-year-old driving a stick shift for the first time with a critical Dad in the passenger seat? Do Mom and Dad need more time together—alone? Is more time or energy needed with a particular child? You can usually “listen to the engine” through the tone of the conversations taking place at home to monitor the stress level.
3. The gas gauge. This is the margin question. Every ministry family I know is strapped for time and often other resources. The families that go the distance are the ones that have enough gas in their tank for the long haul. They are consciously and consistently refueling through weekly days off: “Date Nights,” “Daddy Dates,” vacations, and daily spiritual tune-ups to keep the engine running more efficiently. Again, if you want to know exactly how much gas is really in the family or marriage tank, ask your wife. She knows.