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Family Dashboard

Blog: Family Dashboard

By Dustin Neeley, Acts 29 Pastor of Crossing Church

It was an old car but we loved it. It leaked oil and antifreeze, but hey, I was a church planter and thankful to have any car that actually operated without pedals. I will never forget the day that it almost caught fire--while I was driving it!

I will never forget the distinct smell of burning antifreeze. The billowing smoke in my old car began slowly and then impaired my vision like a horrifyingly blinding cloud at a Willie Nelson concert. I panicked suddenly when I realized that the car I was driving was now out of control on a busy road. I’ll never forget the helplessness I experienced.

Family on Fire

You don’t forget the moment when your wife looks at you and tells you that if things don’t change, she’s leaving; the moment when one of your children looks at you and tells you that they hate the church because you are never home. It’s the moment that you realize that your family is on fire and you are in the driver’s seat.

Stopping the Fires Before they Start

I believe that keeping our eye on the “Family Dashboard” can help us monitor the fires before they start. The “Family Dashboard” is the set of “gauges” that we monitor as we drive along to let us know how things are going in our journey through life and ministry and marriage and family.

Our Family Gauges:

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. I never make this health 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 “RPM”s.

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 boy driving a stick shift for the first time with his 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 in home to monitor the stress level in the home.

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.

Watch the Gauges Carefully

Having your car that overheats and catch fire is never a good thing. 

Watching your family overheat and catch fire, is even worse.

If we will keep our eye on the “Family Dashboard,” we will spend more time on the road for the Gospel and less time in the ditch looking helplessly at a burned out engine.