When I got my first car after college, somebody gave me a magnetic cross to stick on the back. As that was a period of great spiritual growth in my life, I was more than happy to slap it on there and represent Christ with my ride. When a friend of mine noticed my new car art, he made a comment that I will never forget. He said, “I would love to put something like that on my car. But if I did, I would have to drive like a Christian.”
Since he told me that, I have spoken to many other Christians that feel the same way. Since I have struggled similarly in the past, I can definitely empathize. That is why I have decided to write this guide to walking the narrow path while driving on the open highway. Hopefully this short list of driving tips will help you be more like Christ on your next journey.
1. Crank the music – This may seem contradictory to what you would think, but hear me out. I know loud music usually gets your adrenaline cranking, but if you are rocking out to Christian music, the benefits far outweigh the risks. First of all, few things can get your soul in a holy place like listening to your favorite praise and worship tunes. And if your soul is in the right place, it is much easier to imitate Christ.
Secondly, one of the primary triggers of my own road rage comes from people honking and yelling at me. If they are drowned out by Todd Agnew blaring from my stereo, then I will be none the wiser. (Note: I realize it is dangerous to drive with your music too loud. That is a risk I am willing to take, but I urge you to do so with caution.)
2. Practice being selfless – How can you be selfless while driving? It’s very simple. It’s call right-of-way. The best way for you to rid yourself of selfish driving habits is to regularly give up your right-of-way. You get to the four-way stop first? Let the other car go anyway. You turning right while they are turning left? Give them the friendly wave of driving approval and let them be on their way. If you make this a regular practice, it will be much easier to contain your fury when it happens on the fly. I do not believe that practice will make you perfect, but it will definitely make you better.
3. Remember God’s love – I know God loves me. I can feel it. He shows me His love often. However, I have trouble remembering that He loves everyone else, too. That is especially true when somebody is doing something stupid that has a negative impact on me. So whenever somebody runs the stop sign by my house and cuts me off, I often have to say out loud, “God loves that person.” If I say that, and actually take the time to process it, I find it easier to keep my road rage at bay…most of the time.
4. Obey the law – I know this may sound absurd, but you should obey standard traffic laws. Come to a complete stop at stop signs and lights. At least consider driving somewhere in the neighborhood of the speed limit. Your vehicle has turn signals for a reason, so you should use them every now and then.
Believe it or not, I am fairly certain that Jesus would do these things if He ever got behind the wheel. And if you are trying to be like Him, you should probably start working on those rolling stops. (Note: I'm also fairly certain that Jesus would drive a Chevrolet. So...there's that.)
5. Athletic tape – Whether people choose to follow tip number one or not, I think it is safe to assume that people in cars cannot hear each other clearly, even in a shouting match. Perhaps that is why many people choose to express their frustration with a simple hand gesture…a California Howdy as we call it where I’m from. So how do you keep yourself from using this classic piece of sign language? The answer is very simple: tape your fingers together.
If your index finger is taped to your middle finger, any attempt to flip somebody off would result in what would appear to be a lazy attempt to wish them peace in their journey. It would be impossible not to laugh at yourself if you went to throw up the finger and inadvertently gave a Boy Scout salute. And you know what they say, “laughter is the best medicine.” Well, that and Pepto-Bismol. I don't know what I would do without that stuff.
6. Pray – I know it may feel silly, but if you spend some time in prayer before you head out into a congested area, it will be easier to keep your cool. Asking God to help you be patient (which is different than actually asking for patience) before you go out into a high traffic area that you know will be frustrating will help more than you can imagine. God wants us to ask Him for things, and I know that there are many things we want more than being able to curb our road rage. But if this is really something you struggle with, you may want to move it up to the top of your prayer list. (Note: If you choose to pray while driving, please keep your eyes open. It’s okay…I promise.)
Being 100% serious, I honestly believe that driving with a Christian attitude can go a long way toward showing others the love of Christ. If you are afraid of contradicting a Christian vehicle magnet with your actions behind the wheel, you may want to consider changing your driving habits instead of re-gifting the magnet.
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is —his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:2 NIV)