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.