–By Steve Hunt

Anytime I get in my car I deliberately engage in the following “coaching to self” routine:

  • I will not tailgate someone regardless of what my perspective is on what they did.
  • I will not “give someone the eye” when I pass them regardless of what has taken place.
  • I will not chase anyone down regardless of what they do.
  • I will not “submit a hand gesture” regardless of how I feel.
  • I will not intentionally slow down if someone is tailgating me.

Is there any other situation where we as Christians “lose our witness” that compares to driving? What is it about being in our cars, simply driving from point A to point B, that causes us to become irrationally demonstrative towards our fellow drivers? Are we in any way comparable in being as aggressive in any other activity in our lives as we are on the open highway? Teachers, secretaries, plumbers, church elders, presidents of companies, and yes even pastors, so many people are “ticking time bombs” on the streets of our cities. There can be an array of speculation as to why, but regardless of our justifications, we really need to figure out how to legitimately “chill out”. 

You’re a Christian on the roads too!
For us to be different than the world and to honour God, we need to stand apart. It’s embarrassing to the Name of Christ to have someone inflict some form of “road rage” upon another person, and as the perpetrator speeds away, everyone who witnessed this exchange sees a bumper sticker that says, “Honk If You Love Jesus” or some such Christian sentiment! There are already so many areas where syncretism in the church has caused remarkably similar activity as it relates to our society, causing “the church” to be more “subculture” than counterculture.

This message is for all Christians
Please do not think I am preaching to only bad, immature Christians out there – as you may have already concluded by my opening discourse, there is a reason I must “coach” myself specifically when getting in my car! Each of those “issues” I mentioned are specific areas I need to still pay a certain amount of attention to, because they are particular experiences I have bumped into over the years. And for me, I am not positive as to why this was/is my predisposition, but it certainly has caused some distressing altercations, some of them, if truth be told, not that many years ago. Today, after various strategic and applied endeavours, this is no longer such an overwhelming issue for me. Do I get frustrated on the highway? Of course I do, but I don’t lose control and I don’t believe my fellow drivers recognise any obvious indication from me that I am feeling such.

Overcoming road rage
What measures have I put in place to overcome road rage? Foundationally, my relationship with the Lord has become more substantial. As a “lifetime Christian” I have heard people repeatedly tell me over the years that I needed to do this or that to be a better Christian, however instead of adopting a “legalistic” approach, I essentially focused on James 4:8; I decided that I wanted God to be close to me so I drew close to Him. I did whatever it took to enhance the intimacy I had with Him. 

What are you filling yourself with?
When I get in my car, I turn on Christian radio or audio availabilities, whether that be music or teaching. I find something meaningful and I genuinely “pay attention”. If I can really focus on the message of what I am listening to, the exteriors of my immediate perceived circumstances are not so critical to my responses. My “red flag” is if I recognise frustration, I immediately refocus on the specifics of the message I am listening to. Here are a few ideas as to how I now try to “love my enemies” on the road:

When someone cuts me off in traffic:

  • I will back off and not tailgate to show my irritation.
  • If I do eventually pass them, I will not stare them down.
  • I will not mouth any words that I hope they can make out.
  • I will not make any gestures with any body part.

When someone tailgates me:

  • I will continue driving the appropriate speed and not tap my breaks.
  • If there is a place to pull over, I will do so.
  • I will not stare them down when they pass.
  • I will not mouth any words that I hope they can make out.
  • I will not make any gestures with any body part.

Stand out from the world!
Come on my fellow Christ-followers; let’s be different than the chaotic “world” in this routine daily activity. Do your best to make us all look a little more constructive in our counterculture-ness and purposefully drive like a “Christian!”

STEVE HUNT lives in Clovis, California, and is involved in a number of men’s ministries, including leading weekly groups for men struggling with marriage, relationship, and sexual issues. He can be contacted at stevehunt@nationwide.net 

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