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September 15, 2009

Christian Leaders and Their Motorcycles

Why they love them

My husband wanted a motorcycle. He’d been talking about one for almost a year, probably thinking about it long before that. I wasn’t so thrilled with the idea, but then I found out we were in good company. Author and speaker Lisa Harper has one. So do Chuck Swindoll and Bill Hybels. Ginger Kolbaba, the editor of Kyria, and her husband have one too. When I initially hesitated about getting a motorcycle, our neighbor suggested that I tell my husband that he can’t get one until Billy Graham does. Then I found out that Franklin Graham rides. Sigh.

But I lost the war when someone gave my husband a motorcycle. After some tinkering with the help of a friend, he got it running. And in spite of my initial fears, I found I loved it. In fact I wanted to go out more often than he did.

I started wondering why so many Christian leaders have motorcycles. What’s the attraction? To the average observer, a Christian leader would seem the least likely candidate to own one. Most people think of Christian work as a safe occupation, one that doesn’t involve many risks. In fact, most people have no idea what Christian leaders do. When my husband and I were in campus ministry, I remember a neighbor asking us what we did besides the one big meeting we had each week. He tried to convince us that we should get involved in a pyramid scheme in all our “spare” time.

However, the reality is that it takes a risk-taking personality to become a Christian leader. First of all, a person often goes to Bible school or seminary later in life, almost always after he or she has a family. How many people have the courage to give up their security to go back to school full-time, studying things like Greek, Hebrew, and hermeneutics? It takes a very brave person.

Then we often enter a job that requires us to teach a group of such diverse people it seems impossible to find a topic that will relate to all of them. We also take on leadership roles that continually cause us to take initiative in relationships and policy. Throw in the constant counseling that comes with the position, usually with only rudimentary training, and it gets more complicated.

For example, at 6:20 one morning when my husband and I were looking forward to a day off, the phone rang and someone asked to speak to us about a difficult personal issue. An hour and a half later, we finally hung up our phone, feeling tired and worn. When the phone rang again a few minutes later, I was tempted to let it ring, but my husband answered it before I could suggest it. As soon as he began speaking to the person on the line, I knew it was good friends of ours who also have a motorcycle. His countenance immediately brightened as we planned a motorcycle trip for the day. Gone were the worries of a few minutes before as we imagined the feel of the air around us as we would follow deserted roads, meandering through the countryside.

As I’ve contemplated these things, I’ve decided that this is probably a trend that will continue. Those of us who deal with the most complex issues of life are not afraid of a bike with a motor. Not only do we love the thrill, but we’re not afraid to die!

It may be a stretch, but possibly there are spiritual applications too. The popular book of the 70’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance gave my husband the idea for an article called “Jesus and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.” But it hasn’t gone anywhere. In fact, maybe that would ruin the whole thing. Perhaps the particularly nice thing about riding a motorcycle is that it is sort of mind numbing. Just you, the wind, and the whisper of God refreshing your soul.

Related Tags: Leadership


JoHannah Reardon demonstrates an uncommon combination of passion and common sense in her article Christian Leaders and Their Motorcycles. Having spent my life trying to reconcile my role as a follower of Jesus with my passion and career choice relating to all things to do with cars and motorcycles, I believe that this is a struggle that all believers must engage in to avoid becoming self righteous hypocrites. Jesus calls us to the kingdom of God, not to leave the human race for which he gave himself.

Motorcycles are great fun, and a wonderful ministry opportunity. Check out WheelsofGrace.org for one, www.blacksheep.org, and on and on.. Everywhere you turn there are hurting people and where the human heart hurts, God is wanting to heal. So we ride, and we offer the salve of the Lord where we can.

A friend of my Dad has ridden motorcycles for years and is a Christian. He gave me a "spike cross" several years ago that they give away at rallies. I hung it on the mirror in my van as I do not have a motorcycle. I have ridden small cycles for years, but not road size. But it is wonderful that we have so many ministries that involves such different common bonds such as cycle riding. Check out the ministry www.ggoutdoors.org. This is another ministry that is great and covers a lot of outdoor activities...

My husband grew up on motorcycles but didn't ride when we met. For our 10th anniversary he wanted to ride in the mountains. I found a place for us to rent, and I was scared to death to get on the back of it! I made him ride up and down the road first to make sure he remembered how to ride!

That was the most amazing weekend we spent and I never felt closer to God than I did on the bike. No music. No noise but the hum of the motor. I did a lot of talking and listening that weekend. Now, 3 years later, I ride my own ;)

I would love to do more with riding and ministry!

i felt the same way that you felt my husband wants a bike. i am allowing god to work in our lives with the motorcycle.

My husband is a motorcyclist too. He belongs to the local group of motorcycle ministry called the Freedom Warriors and they are a forming chapter of Christian Motorcycle Association. CMA is a great group of people who sponsor Run for the Son. May God Bless each of you!

My husband, who is not a Christian, has been riding and restoring antique motorcycles long before I met him. At the age of 42 I got my motorcycle license and ride my own. Although I have always enjoyed riding with him and also sharing in the work of restoration, I now understand the full joy of riding. It is, as many of you have said, a way of clearing your mind. It is an automatic mood booster as well. I first noticed it when my husband returned home from a ride on a stressful day, his whole countenance had changed. For me its not so much about not being afraid to die or having a risk taking personality, but a bond between my husband and I. It's a gift God has given us to bring us closer to each other and especially to Him. It is one of many ways to enjoy God's creation. When I am on a motorcycle I smell things that God has made like a field of flowers or even cow manure. I feel the waves of heat and cold breezes or the sun against my face. It's as if my whole body and mind are enveloped by God's loving embrace. When I ride my own, I have to focus on my surroundings so that I am safe. That focus prevents my mind from focusing on the worries of life. Coupled with my other senses being peaked, I arrive home refreshed and more alive. I praise God for this gift!

I am a pastor's wife and we also have a motorcycle. Riding it is simply awesome. Even on a really really ministry-packed weekend my husband will brighten up when his motorbike friends call him for a ride. Nevermind that he is so tired, sleepy and stressed out. A motorcycle trip just makes his day less stressful.

Of course, pastors and spouses should ride. Why do you think they call ministers Rev?

For the men out there - check out Soldiers for Jesus Motorcycle Club website. What an awesome group of men with chapters all over the United States, Costa Rica, South Africa. And their wives are beautiful as well. They are Christian motorcycle club that ministers to the bikers. I've embraced my husband's calling and love trying to help and talking with the women of this side of society. Jesus saved my husband from this and has eqipped him to go back and minister to the other bikers and 1%ers. God is good!

I'm sorry to be rain on all the happy motorcycle talk but I think all of you are forgetting your status as role models. Can't you think of another way to let off some steam and relax? Just because you're careful on your bike doesn't mean those who emulate you will be free from harm on their bikes. My experience with motorcycles is that it is not a matter of if you will get hurt, but when! And then your churches will have to spend limited ministry resources on you instead of others. Have you ever thought of hiking?

Riding is great therapy! How many motorcycles do you see sitting outside of psychiatrist offices...LOL! I am also a memeber of CMA (Christian Motorcyclist Association) and started riding when I was 42 years old. I am awed by the money raised for missions through Run for the Son, our annual fundraier ride through CMA. God is doing a mighty work through motorcyclists and their willingness to stand for him.

I think it's great that so many Christians are on their bikes.

Yes... It is only a matter of "when" vs that of "if" for a crash, however I myself have already been in several crashes when I was younger and it's that factor that helps me stay right with my Father. :)

Airbags, crunch zones and anti lock breaks give me a false sense of security... While being in the open makes me a safer driver and a more spiritual man and father.

I however ride my bike with a full size 2X3 Christian flag on the back... Bevause Christ is the most exciting riding partner I could ever have. :). He sits back there and waves to thousands of men a week.. He never gets tired... And its his wave of peace and love that helps motivate other men to get their butts back in church and start living the word. :)

That in turn results in more stable families, better employees, a bette community, etc. :)

So... Ride your cycles and wave his banner... For itKs his love that makes every breath we take possible. :)



My husband is just hopping on the motorcycle hobby again, 35 years after a life-altering motorcycle accident. I give him a lot of credit for returning to something he loves. So far, this is one of those areas in which my interest springs from interest in my husband, because I can't see the attraction of the sport. I'm a bit further along than I was a year ago. (See my What a Racket blog post: http://aquajane-musings.blogspot.com/search?updated-max=2008-09-08T14%3A33%3A00-05%3A00&max-results=7
And Ginger Kolbaba's article in the last Today's Christian Woman, "For the Fun of It," inspires me to stretch further. I agreed to learn how to ride a Vespa. Whee!

Your statement, "Not only do we love the thrill, but we're not afraid to die" made me think. I've been a biker for over 40 years; I enjoy driving a sports car, FAST; I like to walk also...but I am not afraid to die. You make motorcycle riding sound like if you get on a bike you're asking to die. Like I said before I've been riding for over 40 years and in that time I have never had a bike wreck. Now I do thank the Lord for His protection, but I don't think motorcycle riding makes us more apt to die than any other kind of transportation -- including getting there with our own two feet. Congratulations, for you are a first. I have never heard someone say that about biking.

I am an associate pastor of a Bible church, chaplain for a police department and chaplain for a law enforcement motorcycle club. My wife and I both have bikes and couldn't agree more with the points in the article. We also recognize that we are role models and we drive, train and advise others carefully. We, too, have lost friends and our children have lost friends on motorcyles. But, as God gives us grace and life each day, we ride carefully and freely before Him and our congregation. Many, many ministry doors have opened as the result of our biking. Thanks for such an understanding article.

Ah I wish someone could give me a motprcycle.I would love to be a proud owner of one!

The action taken to national disaster is noble but it's a real shame that so many people take advantage of the negative situations.

I mean everytime there is an earthquake, a flood, an oil spill - there's always a group of heartless people who rip off tax payers.

This is in response to reading that 4 of Oprah Winfreys "angels" got busted ripping off the system. Shame on them!

My husband and I (ministry leaders) love to get out on his huge bike and ride almost every weekend! I have asked the same question, why is it so relaxing and exhilarating? I think it has to do with getting "alone" with your thoughts where no one can interrupt you. And at the same time enjoy God's amazing creation around you!
I almost always come home and start writing about things I saw felt and heard on our ride. It gets my creative juices flowing!
It is also very bonding for us as a couple. God helped me let go of some really strong life long fear several years ago and the culmination of that breakthrough was allowing my husband to get a bike and joining him on it. What joyful freedom I feel every single time we ride because it reminds of the old fear I have left behind!
Thanx for the fun article!

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