By Pastor Greg “WINDEX” Diamanti
How is it that people will know we are Christians? Is it by the words we say? Is it by the patch we wear? Or perhaps is it the JESUS IS LORD patch? Will that convince them? The answer is found in the Gospel of John 13:35 when Jesus said, “By this will all men know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” This article is written to me and perhaps to you. You decide. To explain, I need for you to know where I came from. In the 70’s I rode a chopper with some pretty unsavory characters – and that’s all I’ll say about that. I was young, selfish, self-centered and walking tall in my pride. I lived my life without concern for anyone else – because it was all about me! But on November 4th, 1980 – because of my insane lifestyle, I became depressed beyond imagination and attempted to kill myself. (Thank-God I failed.) That’s when Jesus came into my life! I thank God that He had mercy on me and saved my soul that very same evening.
I am so different today from back then! Today, I am preaching the Gospel and riding with Black Sheep: Harley-Davidsons for Christ! It’s no longer about ME but about US; the brothers and sisters with whom I ride with. What happens then, when I misbehave, break the law or act foolishly? What do other people think of me – especially when I am wearing the Black Sheep patch? You might think that they judge me but they don’t! Instead, they see the name of Jesus on my back and now begin to criticize my Savior. I know this because that’s the way I saw it too! “Bunch of hypocrites! They say one thing and do another!” We can all plead guilty of being the reckless fool at one time or another; not thinking or caring about the riders behind us. For example: If I am leading a group onto a highway, showing everybody how fast I can accelerate and leaving everyone else behind, where’s the brotherly love in that? If I, the leader of the pack, hits the onramp at full-throttle, gaining speeds of up to 70 or 75 miles an hour before the others have even made the turn, I am leaving them to have to race to catch up; safe or not. I’m not thinking about anyone else but me! Where is the love in that?
As a long-time rider, I have seen and even experienced the broken bones and internal bleeding in a hospital. As a HOG chaplain I have witnessed the weeping widows at the graveside and struggled to console their children with the loss of their father. There is a responsibility for those who ride and an even greater responsibility for those who lead, especially when they are servants of Christ! Not too long ago, a group of HOG and BSHDFC riders were riding together. The leader was an experienced, skilled rider but the route was filled with tight, twisty curves. As the group attacked the country road, a newer, less experience rider missed a curve and flew off of his bike, lying unconscious on the side of the highway. He was gravely injured with multiple broken bones and internal injuries. At home he has a wife and four small children. His recovery will be long and painful and his ability to return to work is questionable. (Being an excellent rider does not necessarily mean that one is an excellent leader. Good leaders look out for their team.)
I have often heard leaders say, “Ride your own ride…but keep up!” The two are not always compatible. That’s why a good leader will always look for the weakest riders and with compassion, consider their abilities. The HOG manual even states that when a group is on a ride, the leader should consider the least competent rider in the group and ride according to that person’s level of safety. A good leader is always mindful of those following them. With leadership (of any kind) there comes great responsibility. Businessman Max Dupree said, “Leaders do not inflict pain. Leaders bear the pain.” How much truer this is for those of us who are Christians, leading with love. Once again, It’s not about me. It’s about those I am leading. As a ride leader, it’s all about helping those behind us get home safely. They are depending on us!
The Bible says, “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind, let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:3-5) That is exactly how we must live, walk AND RIDE before our Lord and Savior.
“Each of you should look not only to your own interest, but also to the interests of others.” ~the Apostle Paul (Phil 2:4)