Why Pastors Ride Harleys

Have you ever noticed how many pastors ride Harleys? According to my own Let’s Look Around Research Institute (LLARI) there are more motorcycle riders per capita among pastors than any other profession outside of motocross.

And I know why.

I Know Why

Riding a motorcycle is Bad. Bad, not sinful. Robbing a bank is bad…and sinful. Cheating on your wife is bad…and sinful. Riding a Harley is simply Bad. Bad as in cool. Bad as in “I’m not that wimpy, overweight, short tie-wearing, fried-chicken eating, fundamental, missionary minded, 1611, Baptist pastor.” No, I’m cool. I’m a real guy—a tough guy.

It’s not hard to spot the Harley riding pastor, especially on Sunday morning. Every fifth illustration in their “talk” begins with something like, “Earlier Harleythis week I was up on the Blue Ridge Parkway riding my Harley when…” I have to admit that grabs my attention quicker than “The other day while driving my 2003 Buick LaSabre to Wal-Mart,…”

These pastors don’t just tell the story, they show it. As the words “Blue Ridge Parkway” hit the invisible mic protruding from their right ear, up on the Hi-def screen flashes the pastor on his bike. And the congregation silently oohs and aahs. Our pastor is K-o-o-l. All across the sanctuary-turned-auditorium hundreds inwardly commit to inviting their friends and neighbors to “come hear our Bad pastor.”

Pastors have an image problem. I know; I once was one of them. This month marks the 10th anniversary of transitioning my career from full-time ministry to business. I remember well the disdain I felt for how I knew others viewed those of us in the “pastorate.” It was never meant to be a compliment, but one of the greatest compliments I would hear would be, “Well, you don’t look like a pastor.”  Thank you, mission accomplished.

Park Your Harley Outside

Owning and riding a Harley is an image thing. However, the pastor can’t always be on his bike. This is where a touch of facial hair comes to the rescue. Riding a bike down the hallway and round the nurses station at St. Jospeh’s would be inappropriate. But sporting any facial hair in excess of the simple business man mustache will do the trick for those places off-limits to hogs.

Rev. Next Door

Rev. Next Door

For a little fun, take a look at the staff page of any church and see how many of the men on staff have little longer sideburns, or a horse shoe stache or goatee. Then go to the staff pages of other white-collar professional businesses and compare. Pastors have this manly facial fair thing down!  The staff pages for some churches look like the auditions of a cleaned-up version of some reality repossession show. Yes, they love Jesus but they are tougher than the nails that held the Savior to the cross.

I was once a part of getting a pastor his first Harley. I don’t know why I agreed to be a part of it. It sounded like the right thing to do at the time. After all, he had served the church for a couple of decades and we wanted to do something special for his anniversary. So, Pastor Fred got his Harley. Shortly thereafter he gave my son a brief, but thrilling, ride on the back of the bike. That next Sunday every 5th grade boy in Gwinnett County showed up at the church with the cool, Harley-riding pastor. It works.

It’s too bad a few pastors have so tarnished the manhood of the pastorate that these pastors are now over-compensating for the tarnished image by risking their lives on these murdercycles. It’s sad they have to waste time gazing at their reflection, grooming those carefully fashioned whiskers. The truth is, they don’t need wheels or whiskers.

The next time your see a pastor pulling into the church parking lot driving his 2003 Buick LaSabre know that he is secure in his manhood—but in need of a newer car!


One response to this post.

  1. Posted by www.thesoldierssanctuary.com on June 9, 2014 at 7:04 pm

    I ride one too 🙂


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