4 Truths Every Pioneer Should Know

This is a guest post by Mary DeMuth. She is an author and speaker. You can read Mary’s blog or visit her on Twitter. If you want to guest post on this blog, check out the guidelines here.

Pioneering is hard. It is especially hard for those around them. It is even hard for the pioneers themselves.

Backpacker on Mountain Summit - Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/cglade, Image #10473146

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/cglade

Through God’s strength, I’ve pioneered a lot of things in my life. I parented my kids in an entirely different way than I was raised (and am still plowing that ground). I broke up the fallow ground of publishing, starting from nothing. And my family and I planted a church in one of the most unchurched places on the planet: France. So I get pioneering.

The problem comes when those of us who have that entrepreneurial bent forget the perils of pioneering. We get distracted by the joy of the hunt, of doing something entirely new, that we overlook four important truths. If you’re heading toward a pioneering situation in your job, ministry, or passion, tuck these truths deep inside—truths my husband and I learned on foreign soil:

  1. Pioneers who thrive have a mentor. When we started a church, my husband had an older, wiser professor from seminary who came to visit us in Southern France. He patiently listened to our stresses and worries and offered great insight. He helped us discern the situation with fresh eyes.

    Later, after we came home and recounted the rest of our story to him, we expected him to nod wisely, tell us that’s just what happens when you pioneer a work. But he didn’t. He said, “I’ve never heard a story like that.” In doing so, he validated our bewilderment and pain and became a key instrument in the healing process that followed.

  2. Pioneers take people into account.We can be so concentrated on doing a new work that we forget the fallout of the relationships in our lives. My husband, a church planter at heart, realized that our time in France was damaging both me and our children. When he realized that, he found a job in the states, humbling himself, and giving up the dream of starting a new church (for a season). He changed courses for the sake of his family.
  3. Pioneers hold the end result loosely. We left Southern France before we saw much fruit, but we did recruit a French couple who are now doing amazing work there. They pioneer the kind of work we could never do. In retrospect, we moved overseas simply for their sakes.

    Of course we didn’t see it that way going in. We were going to do “huge things.” Instead God called us to a series of seemingly small, insignificant things for the sake of an ending only He could dream up. If we had clung to our idea of the end result, we would’ve languished in disillusionment and counted our pioneering as failure.

  4. Pioneers understand there will be opposition. In any new work, there will be folks who naysay. There will be bureaucratic red tape. Even those closest to you won’t understand the “why” of the new work. Beyond that kind of opposition lies spiritual opposition. Pioneers understand that the battles we face have a spiritual dimension and prepare accordingly. They’re not surprised by push-back.

I’m grateful for my pioneer journeys—parenting, writing, church planting. And though the lessons I learned in the process were sometimes excruciating, I can honestly say I’m better for the pioneering.

I’m tougher, more resilient and tenacious. Pioneering is a risk, but in risking, we grow. In our small obedience, we have the privilege of being a part of a genesis work.

Questions When have you pioneered something? What have you learned? Or are you pioneering now? What’s the greatest joy in that? Challenge? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
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  • http://deuceology.wordpress.com Larry Carter

    I’m doing something that few (other than my wife)  could ever see in me, including myself, by writing my blog.  It’s given me the confidence along the way to begin writing an eBook that I want to give as a gift to those who actually show up and read on a daily basis what I read.

    • http://www.sundijo.com Sundi Jo Graham

      That’s awesome Larry. Love when God allows us to use our talents for His glory. 

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      Stepping out in this way is a risk, but we will all benefit from it! Thanks for pioneering your blog and upcoming book.

  • http://www.sundijo.com Sundi Jo Graham

    Great post. Who’s the guest writer? The information is missing. 

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Argh. My bad. It is Mary DeMuth. I just fixed it. Thanks.

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      It’s me. :) But Michael fixed it. Glad you liked it.

  • http://blog.cyberquill.com/ Cyberquill

    I’m the first vegetarian ever in my family. 

    • http://www.revivallifestyle.com/ Daniel Vogler

      Respect! :)

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      My youngest daughter is that too. 

  • http://www.thadthoughts.com/ Thad Puckett

    Excellent post.  My wife and I were church planters for 20 years in Asia.  Pioneering can be very difficult.  Do anything different from how it was ever done and you’ll be amazed what people will say.

    We are pioneering a different route now, but it is no less challenging.  

    • http://jeremystatton.com/ Jeremy Statton

      Interesting perspective. Is it like really cold weather? You never get used to it?

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      Church planting is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, but the growth in retrospect made it worth all that heartache. Congrats for pioneering 20 years!

  • http://www.alslead.com/ Dave Anderson

    I left a comfortable job of 20 years in the corporate world in a down economy to start my own leadership consulting business (Anderson Leadership Solutions).  I am having a ball, learning a lot and have a lot of people confused by my choice.  I’ve been blogging for 5 months now.  www.alslead.com.

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      Way to pioneer, Dave. Must’ve been scary, but glad to hear you’re loving it.

  • http://twitter.com/Tjeko Tjeko

    Even at the moment Tatiana (my wife) and I are pioneering what many say is impossible: A Fun Park for children in a developing country (Uganda). We’re trying to  stir new economies trough offering child-focused ‘edutainment’. I love the four points you’re offering. Of course we could add some to the list. what about: 
    5. Pioneers stay slightly ignorant of the facts as they are – but tend to see things the way they think they should be.  

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      Oh my goodness! I love, love, love this idea. Wow! I love point five.

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      Your addition is right on! A little bit of ignorance is the only way to plow forward.

  • Psstephens

    I am assuming this is written by Mary DeMuth?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Yes. Argh. I missed the bio block. I have now added it. Thanks.

      • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

        You’re so on top of things. It’s actually MY fault for not noticing.

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      Well, this makes me happy that you figured me out without my name!

  • http://www.revivallifestyle.com/ Daniel Vogler

    Great post Mary! Thank you for your heart and the obedience towards God’s calling.

    I’ve planted house churches and started evangelistic teams ever since I’m 16 years old. Right now I’m pioneering several business start ups and am contemplating starting a school of ministry. One thing I discover about successful pioneers is that they have to know how to live without the praises of people. Well, at least for a season.

    Whatever it is you pioneer, chances are high there isn’t an established system of appreciation for your work yet (obvious since you’re the first one doing it). Most people thrive in environments where they’re constantly honored, valued and rewarded for their achievements. They need to be seen. 

    That’s why I consider Self-Assurance (or in our cases “God assurance”) to be a crucial characteristic of successful pioneers. Would you agree?

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      Daniel, wow, that is so true. You have to have your calling cemented. Otherwise, you’ll get very discouraged by the lack of congrats from others. 

    • aclark

      I so agree with the need for God-Assurance in pioneering. We are pioneering a new church right now and must fall back on this constantly. Being sure of His voice as the one who both calls, plants, equips, and assures. 

      • http://www.revivallifestyle.com/ Daniel Vogler

        That sounds exciting! Many blessings on you for the adventures ahead!

  • annepeterson

    Mary. Like you, I pioneered raising a christian family, saying positive things to my children, verbally expressing my love to them. And I led the way in the educational realm. My grandparents emigrated from Greece. Neither my mother who quit high school to help care for her 7 brothers and sisters, nor my father who never finished high school, pursued a formal education. It took me many years, but I graduated in 2006, after overcoming many obstacles. And one of my brothers followed suit and pursued his education as well.

    The one area I would have to say I’m most proud about becoming a pioneer is the area of driving. My mother never learned, nor had her mother before her. My mom would tell us she was just too nervous to drive. Both my parents did not think it was necessary for me to learn, so when my classmates received their permits I watched, feeling very different. But, in my 30’s, as a married woman, I decided I needed to learn so I could take my children places. And when I have chided myself for being a nervous driver, I remind myself, at least I learned.   What a great spin on daring to do things differently than those who preceded us. Each decision we make to go a step further empowers us to keep going. Remembering we will always have obstacles to overcome has been important to me. I sometimes made the mistake of thinking the next thing I go after will be easy. Each pursuit has its own set of obstacles.  Thanks for your post.

    • http://www.inspired2ignite.com/ Denise

      Anne -I love your spunk!   I can really relate to what you wrote. 

      It is so hard breaking family dysfunction and patterns. 
      I also pioneered different parenting -and seeking help to heal from abuse.  It’s hard work doing things differently. 

      • annepeterson

        Denise,  Thanks. I’m presently working on a writing project about loss and the memories from the past are one of my biggest obstacles right now. I find I often write my blogs about different challenges. One of my posts called , “never good enough,” has been read a lot. I guess there are a lot of people out there who can relate. I want to encourage those who are hurting and have suffered from loss and abuse. 

        • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

          Great title for a blog post. I’ve felt that way before too.

      • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

        It’s like you’re plowing hard, hard ground. But when you start to see that first sprout of new growth, it helps you rejoice and move forward.

        • annepeterson

          Yes, I agree with you. But, I’m trying to work on a writing project and I’m hitting a lot of rocks. As I continually try to break them up and feel like I’m making progress there are more before me. Sometimes the rocks win. And yet, I have this drive within me. Tenacity, I’ve been told. It makes me keep going when I don’t think I can anymore. I know God has used the circumstances in my life to strengthen me, it’s just that the pain casts shadows that still startle me at times.

          • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

            I’ve recently seen one of those shadows last week. It surprised me too. Resistance comes in strange packages sometimes.

          • annepeterson

            I like that line, “resistance comes in strange packages.” Seeing it as resistance helps. I tend to sometimes still believe things that feel true.

            I just went to your blog and signed up and read a couple of your postings. I LOVED the one about writing. I also ordered your “secrets to writing your memoir,” because I think one of my projects will be writing a memoir. 

          • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

            You should definitely write your memoir!

          • annepeterson

            I am presently writing a book about loss. Having lost my mother when I was 16, my dad 8 years later and then 6 years after that my sister disappeared for over 20 years and became a victim of domestic violence. Would a memoir be as effective as maybe an inspirational book? How can I make that determination? Maybe I’ll have the answer once I read “Secrets to Writing Your Memoir.” 

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      That is amazing, Anne. You truly broke a cycle. Now I’d like you to become a race car driver. (Just kidding). 

      • annepeterson

        You’d think I was a passenger in a race car at times, hitting my imaginary break on the passenger’s side. One brother told me he’d never drive me anywhere again for all the gasps I let out. :)

        • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

          That’s so funny. I do the same thing when my kids drive.

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

       Anne, you are a woman of courage. Bravo.

      • annepeterson

        I don’t know if anyone ever told me that before. Thanks, Michele.

        • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

          You’re welcome, Anne.

  • http://www.inspired2ignite.com/ Denise

    Mary, I love your “Uncaged” blog and was excited to see you guest posting here!

    I pioneered in breaking abusive/dysfunctional family patterns. 

    It has been painful and difficult, but I am finally thriving… My therapist has been an amazing mentor while I faced plenty of opposition.  God has blessed my hard work by bringing healthy people into my life along my journey.   After a 12 year estrangement, I recently saw my mother and we had a time of healing and reconcilliation.

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      That’s a hard thing to break, but am so thankful you used the word “thriving.” That’s a testimony to God’s work on your behalf and your strong desire to get well.

      AND AMEN about reconciliation with your mom. Woot! That gives me hope with my own set of strained relationships. Amen.

  • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

    Insightful post, Mary. As an idea guy, I’ve started a lot of new ventures. I’ve found a few things that help see the project through to completion…

    1. Don’t tell anyone about it (especially your wife) until the idea is far enough along that you can explain it properly and show pictures or diagrams of it to others. Premature sharing can lead to an overwhelmingly negative response. ( example… let’s invest $10,000 in this idea I just though up)

    2. Expect negative reactions and be ready and willing to offer constructive responses. This is actually a good thing, and will help you refine your idea. Be really scared if all you get is… “That’s a great idea.” Having some realistic and truthful friends who will tell it like it is really help in this situation.

    3. Be willing to see it through to the end. Most ideas worth pursuing take two to three times as long as you first imagined. Things will cost more and that easy path you imagined will be full of potholes. Sometimes the path will lead up the side of a mountain. Persistence is required.

    4. Know when to quit. If your path suddenly hits a dead end, you need to know if it’s just a dip or a full blown cul-de-sac. The book, The Dip, by Seth Godin can help. Having a good mentor can be very valuable in this situation.

    I can remember my first book. It hit a LOT of initial resistance, took a lot longer and cost a lot more than I ever expected. But the journey and the experience was well worth it. In retrospect, it was one of the greatest learning experiences of my life. I’m certainly glad that I kept going, when the project got hard. There were so many days when I wanted to quit.

    • http://www.revivallifestyle.com/ Daniel Vogler

      wow that was like a mini blog post in it self. Thanks for your thoughts, John!

      • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

        I agree!

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      OK, John, you need this comment to be a post. It’s terrific. And I love what you said about your spouse and fermenting the idea first. Well said.

      • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

        My wife and I really struggled with this when we were first married. Over the years we have become a good team. She helps me tame my hair brained ideas, and I have helped her she the possibilities. We usually come up with a good compromise.

        • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

          I love how God gives us spouses to balance us out.

    • Jill Connelly

      I needed this advice.  #1 was especially confirming for me. 

      Early on, I put a little bait out which was met with complete negativity.  My reaction was to crawl back in my shell.  It didn’t dull my passion, though, and I continued to quietly plow forward.  

      I’ve begun to wonder, though, if by keeping quiet I am actually selling myself short.  But your comment makes me realize that I have not. 

      The business side of things has brought me to a point that requires the beginning of exposure.  I literally drip sweat with each person I reveal my passion and project.

      Your comments have confirmed for me that it was ok to keep quiet, that it will work to my benefit.  It makes sense to have a plan for timing and method of exposing the project. 

      • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

        On my last job, I worked a lot with the district librarian. She was my greatest mentor, and helped me immensely with many projects. When we would work on a project together, she would always reject my first round of ideas. At first, it made me mad. But I realized that that was her personality and I also realized that I had to think through my ideas, come up with a better approach, and fight hard to get them through.

        I had to help her see the ideas in my head.

        This took time, but it really helped me craft a better project outcome.

        Over the years, our projects got better and better, and I actually looked forward to her objections, since it gave me a starting place for improvement.

        I would suggest professional organizations like Toastmasters, to help you develop mentors who can guide your ideas to fruition.

      • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

        I’m so glad the post clarified things for you, Jill.

    • http://www.thedailyretort.com/ TorConstantino

      Great insights John. This week I read an article about Peter Drucker who was a strong advocate for knowing when to cut your losses. That can be a challenge after a pioneer has poured themselves into a venture.

      • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

        So true, Tor. Sometimes our pride gets in the way of letting something go. When I’m facing what seems like an impossible cliff in front of me, I like to use the P.I.P. principle.

        1. Priority: Make the problem my number one priority
        2.Ingenuity: Try a variety of different things to solve the problem
        3. Persistence: Stay at the task long enough for a breakthrough.

        More often than not, this combination yields results.

        So many times, we keep trying the same thing over and over and don’t find results. I think that is actually the definition of insanity… ;-)

        The hard thing is to set a reasonable time for completion. Having a mentor can help.

        • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

          John, you’re going crazy on these potential blog posts!!!!

  • Katie

    This is lovely. Very inspiring!

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      Thanks Katie. And I have a feeling you are lovely and very inspiring.

  • Steve Smith

    I have always had a pioneer spirit. But pioneering is hard. Pioneers come early. I started and folded a magazine just in time to see the subject matter become popular enough to support multiple other, better publications. I am preparing to step back into the pioneer mode with a web-based concept that could be the future of entertainment. But your post brought up several points that I need to address, primarily talking openly with my wife to have a better understanding of her feelings about the venture. So thanks!

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      Ah yes, it’s so important that your spouse is on board. :)

  • Pingback: Pioneering is hard, but worth it | Mary DeMuth()

  • http://www.brandongilliland.com/ Brandon Gilliland

    This is good! Thanks for sharing!

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      Thanks Brandon.

  • Jill Connelly

    I am pioneering through my passion to raise up my children to love the Lord.  I am just beginning to navigate the seemingly deep waters of self-publishing a book (it’s more like a workbook) for children to help them be active listeners in Sunday morning worship.  Several years ago, we stepped out of the much easier zone of “children’s church” and brought our 4 children into the “adult” worship service with us.  The joy and spiritual benefits have been such that I so badly want to inspire other parents to step out of their Sunday comfort zones, too. It’s dual pioneering for me.  1) To inspire others where they don’t want to be inspired.  2) Publishing for the first time.  I’m so excited.
    I’m so scared.

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      I love that, Jill. I do believe that kids can learn to listen and participate in things others think they can’t. Way to pioneer!

    • Jill Connelly

      By the way, a friend forwarded this post to me this morning because she knew I would need it – and I did!   I also needed Tjeko’s Point 5 suggestion below! 
      I’ll be subscribing for future posts.  I don’t want to miss out on all this great advice!
      Thank you!

      • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

        How cool that your friend forwarded the post!

  • http://inhisloveministries.blogspot.com/ Pilar Arsenec

    Pioneering does sound excruciating. I’m grateful for your experiences, because I’m learning a great deal from you.  Thank you Mary, you are a blessing.

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      Thanks Pilar. Yes, it’s hard, but there are such great rewards. 

      • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

        It’s been great working with you and Pilar on the book launch team. I really want to thank you Mary, for sharing your ideas and struggles about letting some things go and focusing on what is important. Your new blog theme and focus are inspiring. It’s so hard to let the “good” go, to get to the “great.”

        • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

          Thanks John. It’s been hard, but very, very freeing!

    • http://www.thedailyretort.com/ TorConstantino

      Me too Pilar – I’m thrilled to have crossed cyber paths with Mary and others via the Platform experience. I’m growing in ways that would not have been possible before.

      • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

        I’m growing through the experience too. Love that!

  • http://twitter.com/lifesurrendered Michele-Lyn

    I love this quote, it just spills over Jesus, and His heart for Servant-leadership. “Instead God called us to a series of seemingly small, insignificant things for the sake of an ending only He could dream up.”
    So often we can miss the eternal value in what we deem insignificant because it’s  small. We cannot see the big-picture like God does. We are to be faithful in little — whatever that may be to us — so we will be trusted with much. Stewardship comes with maturity. As does perseverance and patience, which I think is the hardest thing in pioneering anything. Once the thrill of the hunt wears off, we still need to keep forging ahead, even when we do not yet see the fruit of our labor. Don’t grow weary in doing good. Yes, and AMEN! Great post, Mary! 

    Thank you for all the wisdom and insight and sharing your journey with us!

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      So true about the thrill wearing off. I tend to jump headfirst into things, then fade when trials come or obedience becomes humdrum and boring. (I’m just being honest). Thank the Lord, He is patient!

      • http://twitter.com/lifesurrendered Michele-Lyn

        Oh, yes. I am so thankful He will never give up on us, even if the work of transformation gets messy! Our thrill of the hunt is evident in all our unfinished projects around the house :)

        • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

          I resemble those unfinished projects!

  • http://www.eileenknowles.com/ Eileen

    “Instead God called us to a series of seemingly small, insignificant things for the sake of an ending only He could dream up.”  I love that.  I’ve seen this happen in my life many times.  When I finally stop holding onto my plans so tightly, He comes along and does something beautiful with it.   It rarely turns out the way I first envisioned it…thank goodness!

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      Yes, and that adds to the adventure. :)

  • http://www.heidikreider.com/ Heidi Kreider

    Thanks Mary!  “pioneers hold the end result loosely” …. oh so hard for me!

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      Agreed. I’d rather have a death grip.

  • http://cherionethingivelearned.blogspot.com/ Cheri Gregory

    Like Heidi, I’m struck by #3:  Pioneers hold the end result loosely.
    Just had a conversation w/my father this week in which he reminded me:  Obedience is my job. Results are God’s!

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      So true, but so hard to live, particularly in our achievement-addicted culture. On the Strength’s Finder assessment, my #1 attribute is Achiever. Which can be problematic. Boy howdy do I get a lot done, but when things don’t go my way, I fall into sadness.

  • http://twitter.com/theBossyMom Susan Hill

    Love the honest advice. And I appreciate you mentioning to know when to step back or make a change when it isn’t healthy. It’s amazing how much our egos and pride can get wrapped up in our vision, clouding what God had intended. Good stuff.

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      Yes, my husband exercised amazing humility and kindess in stepping down from that dream.

    • http://www.thedailyretort.com/ TorConstantino

      Susan, your comment resonates with me. I tend to fall into that same category of holding on to something beyond its acceptable use. I need to constantly remind myself that God ordains things in our lives for a season – not necessarily for an eternity.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Katherine-Harms/602268732 Katherine Harms

    I very much appreciate your point about going to France to do big things, only to discover that God’s work for you there was to ferret out the couple who would do big things. I am currently finding my way, looking for my proper work, in a new ministry. It is easy to think I am one of the pioneers and to be proud about that. You remind me that humility in the service of our Lord is essential. I do what I am called to do and trust God to bring the harvest to fruition in his own way.

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      In retrospect, I see all our struggle as worth it for the sake of that new couple doing amazing things. They are reaching people we never would’ve been able to reach. Of course during the time, I was having a very hard time. Yes, humility is hard.

  • http://twitter.com/LisaColonDelay Lisa Colón DeLay

    So true…it’s ridiculous!

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      I like being ridiculous. :)

  • Bonnie Clark

    Nice post Mary.  I was reminded a few inspirational quotes:

    Nothing will ever be attempted if all possible objections must first be overcome.
    — Samuel Johnson
    If you think you have no choice but to do what you do now, you’ve already made a serious error.  Which of the four are getting in your way?
    1.       You don’t know what to do
    2.       You don’t know how to do it
    3.       You don’t have the authority or resources to do it
    4.       You’re afraid.
    – Seth Godin
    The ego’s goal is to have power OVER life’s experiences. The soul’s goal is to have power THROUGH life’s experiences, regardless of what they may be.  
    – David Whyte

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      Wow, Bonnie! Those are some great quotes, especially the Samuel Johnson one. Thanks for sharing.

  • http://www.love-laugh-learn.com/ Deanna

    So glad that you pointed out the importance of having a mentor!  

    We often think as pioneering as completely solitary, yet just having someone speak, model or pray over us can be very powerful.  So thankful for the life-changing wisdom of my own mentor! 

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      I agree. I wouldn’t be where I am today without mentors.

  • Alycia Morales

    A few years ago, God opened a door for my husband and sent us out on the road of life. His career is in construction and requires us to move often. For a couple who spent most of our lives in one area, this could have been frightening. Fortunately, when He asks us to pioneer something, God provides the pioneering spirit to go along with it. It’s been an amazing journey and continues to be so. If I could add anything to Mary’s already amazing article, it would be to trust God to lead as you put your feet behind your faith in His guidance. We watch the cloud and the fire, and we move as He leads.

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      Really well said. And now I’m in a “stay put” season, which also is awesome, but has its downsides too.

  • http://www.thedailyretort.com/ TorConstantino

    Mary, this was a fantastic post! I loved your point, ”
    Pioneering is a risk, but in risking, we grow.” Your message is an important one!

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      Thanks Tor! Risk brings growth.

  • http://ericspeir.com/ Eric Speir

    Loved the post! Frankly, it’s hard pioneering, especially when you can’t see the immediate results. In the midst of the pain we have a hard time seeing the good that could become of it. 

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      We live in a culture where we almost deify instant results. We know we’ve grown in Christ when we learn the art of patience and perseverance.

  • http://www.positivelyalene.com/ Positively Alene

    Love love #3. I’m one that wants to hang on to the original plan and fight like crazy to make it work. A few years ago, I learned to let go and truly follow God. I wouldn’t trade where He has led me now for anything. You are a Pioneer woman! 

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      I’ve learned that lesson countless times in publishing. When I try to “make things happen” I get weird and stressed. But when I take my hands off and pray, God does cool stuff I wouldn’t have seen had I tried to control everything.

  • Jeanette

    Great post, Mary! I especially appreciate the point about taking people into account. I have had to do that lately as I get through difficult life changes. Some dreams and goals simply must be put on hold for the sake of my kids. It’s worth it though when I see them benefitting from it.

    I feel like I am pioneering right now. The greatest challenge is letting go of the tought that I was thrown out in the wild against my will and the whole situation is completely unfair. When I do let go of that, I see the good God is doing and the potential to impact others. One joy is seeing that I am actually tougher than I gave myself credit for. 

    Thanks for offering such great things to think about.


    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      Jeanette, sorry to hear you’ve been thrown out into the wild! That’s a hard place to be. But I’ve also seen great growth in myself even in the aftermath of suffering for other people’s sins. Hang in there.

  • Priscilla Richter

    This has been a week of powerful blog posts, thanks, Michael and Mary.

    I like to think of myself as a forward-looking person, and yes, pioneer.  But a lot gets in my way.  I was brought up to be a people-pleaser. I have traveled away from that path quite a bit, but it’s still there and gets triggered when I come under attack. Then I want to go hide.

    I hear God calling me to transcend all of this, and now I need to trust that He will lay that path as I walk it.  But I’d really like a map!

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      Oh yes, it’s very hard to be a people pleaser! And it’s tiring and scary, especially when opposition comes. Keep at it. Keep pressing on!

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      I’m with you, Priscilla. I’m a huge fan of maps. :) But I’m learning most of life doesn’t follow any kind of map. I have to just take it one day at a time, one moment at a time … and that itself is pioneering!

      • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

        Because I know you, I know you’ve been on a mapless journey this past year. Keep trusting the mapmaker, Michele.

        • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

          Yes, ma’am. He’s got this. But keep reminding me, okay? ;)

  • http://twitter.com/lornafaith Lorna Faith

    So true what you said Mary, that pioneering is a risk, but in risking we grow :-) I can relate to your examples of pioneering. My husband and I moved a few years ago, to a completely new town to start a church plant. It thrived for awhile and then trickled down till only a few faithful people were left. In the end we merged with another church. It’s been a year since we felt God wanted us to hand the leadership over to another pastor and his wife…and it’s also taken that long for my husband to heal from what He expected to happen with the church(ie. lots of growth and change) to what actually happened(a few people saved/baptized, but only a few commited people and then merging with another church). I remember asking God what happened there and He told me for this community (where the church was planted, that had seen multiple church splits) that this church plant that came into unity with another church was a Sign and a Wonder for this town. So it didn’t turn out how we thought, but in the end God had His way. It was good. We’ve learned to hold the end result loosely.

    I like it that you also mention the spiritual dimension of pioneering. Although we had a pastor tell us that they felt God had given us a ‘apostolic breaker anointing’, I guess we weren’t aware when we moved to start the church plant, of the big “push-backs” that can happen when you start something. Our oldest son almost left home, he was so angry when we moved the family, I had 2 car accidents in one day, for 3 months I would wake up at midnight and hear threats and negative voices in my head(did lots of praying), my husband burned out, our 2 teenagers were in a serious bike accident(they were rushed to hospital for head trauma and concussion)…thankful that they are healed today and when the church plant had trickled down to only a few we lived by miracles for 2 months(there was no $ coming in) until my husband and I found work. So it’s really amazing what God will get you through in a short time period:) All lessons that we needed to learn. I think I feel like you do. I feel tougher, more resilient and tenacious but feel privileged to be part of a genesis kind of work. This post was so timely as I’m feeling the pioneering tug as I just finished my 1st historical romance novel and have started blogging. New and scary for me anyway. My husband is feeling the pull as well to get his animated book and kids’ animation series going. 

    So thanks so much for sharing Mary…needed this today!

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      Lorna, have you shared your story publicly yet? Like on a blog? I think it would bless many. 

      • http://twitter.com/lornafaith Lorna Faith

        I think I’ve been too scared to share the ‘nitty gritty’ of what we went through…but maybe it’s time. Maybe someone out there would be encouraged and maybe our story would help them get through the struggles they face. 
        Thanks for your encouragement Mary:-)

        • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

          It would help others in a similar situation not feel like they’re going crazy!

  • http://www.aramblinrose.net/ Ginny

    LOVE this…very encouraging!  

    I am pioneering in several ways, but there are 2 that stick out.  The first is my journey toward  freedom.  I come from a family where mental illness is rampant and abuse (every kind) is the norm.  I have walked a long, dark road to get to the point of seeing light and freedom.  It has been hard fought–still fighting for it every day, but its there and more coming!!!

    The second is my journey in parenting.  Having the background I do, healthy parenting did not come naturally, and it is very hard to see any fruit in my labors.  One day, I was crying out to God about the lack of victory I was seeing and He gently spoke to my heart and said ‘what you are doing is for your grand and great grand children.  You may not see much fruit–the kind you want to see–on earth.  BUT it is coming’…I hold on to that nugget while continuing to tread new ground.  

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      Congrats on coming out of abuse and not duplicating it or perpetuating it! That’s amazing! Go!

      I love what God told you about your grandchildren. That’s so cool. And true.

  • http://www.tammyhelfrich.com/ Tammy Helfrich

    I love your encouraging words, Mary. Thank you for sharing them with us! I appreciate you.

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      Thanks Tammy!

  • http://www.clayproductions.com/ Aaron Johnson

    Mary, thanks for writing from your experience.  We backpack a lot in the Rockies and come upon old pioneer cabins often. One thing that they all have in common is that they are near a water source. It reminds me of how important it is to make your life source the priority when you are pioneering. Your point about having a mentor really gets to the core of that.

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      Oh I so love that, Aaron. And I wish I could join you on the backpacking, but alas, there just aren’t many mountains (other than overpasses) in the Dallas area. Sigh.

  • http://www.danapittman.com/ Dana Pittman

    Great post @MaryDemuth:disqus. I’ve pioneered before and I believe I’m doing so now. My greatest challenge determining whether a “no” is actually a “no” or “not right now”.

    “No”s are crushing more so when you’re pioneering because you are usually blazing a new trail. Thus, you can’t quite gauge a natural resistance and a brick wall. And you are usually called to respond in which an appropriate response is critical.

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      Great thoughts here, Dana. I think this would be a great kernel for a blog post. When is a no truly a no, or an indication that we need to persevere.

      • http://www.danapittman.com/ Dana Pittman

         Yes, agree. …hint, hint… :)

        I also believe having #1 and #2 on your list is important when this distinction is blurry. #1 will help you see your situation from the outside and a place of, hopefully, constructive insight. #2 will help you make the appropriate adjustments.

        • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

          Good insight.

  • http://www.changevolunteers.org/ Change Volunteer

    Nice read Mary. I think some people are just born leaders. Others need some skills to develop. But I am not sure if pioneering is something that can be taught. After all, we do take risks which are subjective. I am so amazed with the quality of the guest posts. Well done sir!

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      And I find I grow when I do risk, so I become a better leader if I do.

  • http://mutatingmissionary.blogspot.de/ Robynrochelle

    Living here in Germany I just didn’t expect some of the doors from churches to be slammed in my face. It was a shock. I found that the things you have listed above have truly been a ‘fact’ in my life. Right now I am praying for a GERMAN mentor. I think that would be an awesome gift from God. I am grateful for those in America that can be so supportive. But here, right here on this foreign soil… I ask for this boldly. Thanks for sharing these 4. I am in the process of moving from a private/personal blogspot, that has no purpose other than being a log of my walk in becoming a missionary to a writing blog. This will really push me in areas that are way beyond myself. So… here’s to those 4 being planted in my heart for the ‘new’ ride.

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      Jesus, please supply Robyn Rochelle with a German mentor. (Robyn have you met the Hendersons at Munich International Church? http://www.munichurch.de/ Robin is amazing.)

      And kudos for starting the new blog!

      • http://mutatingmissionary.blogspot.de/ Robynrochelle

         Thanks Mary! No, I have not, but I am only 2 1/2 hours from Munich. I will check into it. And I have a young girl that became a Christian about a year ago that is moving to Munich to do a work/study program. We were just talking about where she might be able to find Christian input!  THANK YOU!!!!!!!

  • Anne

    Please do share some of your parenting insights. It would be great to read them from you. thanks

  • http://www.pambhm.net/ Pam Matthews

    Pioneering is not for sissies! It involves risks, but the rewards can be amazing. I’m working with a baby ministry in the fight against human trafficking. The learning curve is HUGE! and there are real people hanging in the balance. It’s a huge responsibility. Mary, you are so right about the opposition – whether from ignorance or fear or pride or a multitude of other reasons, people push back. The main lesson I’m learning right now is that I can’t let my passion outrun my resources – time, energy, funds, etc… Only God knows what the result will be – and that’s really the only way to have joy in this fight.

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      I love that! Pioneering isn’t for sissies! So true.

  • http://www.newequus.wordpress.com/ Mindy @ New Equus

    I so get the pioneering thing! We are living that as I type. My daughter was set to go to Italy with Cru, had gone through three months of fundraising and then was told  that the time wasn’t right for her to go. While she didn’t get to use the funds she had raised for herself, she is getting to share those funds with another missionary in Italy who is linked to a totally different organization. Those funds will finish up what he needs to continue his work. My daughter was just a small piece in the puzzle for God’s work to continue in Italy.

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      That’s a great story, but a hard one to live. God’s ways are mysterious.

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      I struggle most when God acts contrary to what I expected. I like situations to make sense! How is your daughter dealing with the change? Any lessons learned you can share with us?

      • http://www.newequus.wordpress.com/ Mindy @ New Equus

        Michele, this was definitely one of those things that didn’t make since to any of us that’s for sure! My daughter is dealing very well with the change considering she is sort of in limbo as to her next move. Sharing her money with the other Italian missionary helped a lot. She doesn’t feel like all her fundraising for for naught. As for lessons learned I have realized how hard it is to let go of your children and let them figure things out for themselves. It was very hard not to rush and try to fix this for her. But I have also learned there is peace in knowing she has experienced a very valuable life lesson and that she is really open to where God wants to lead her next.

        • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

          Agreed. Some parents never learn to let go. Good job for finding the art and joy and pain of letting go.

        • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

          It IS difficult to let go of our children and let them learn. Good for you for seeing the lesson in it.

  • http://www.EpicGraceBook.com/ Kurt Bubna

    Awesome, Mary! Keep taking the risks . . .and keep growing!

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      I’ll try. With all my pioneering, I sure do love comfort!

  • http://thechuppies.com/ Kara @ The Chuppies

    I SO appreciate this post…

    It’s scary to walk the pioneer-risk-taking-road…and it honestly isn’t my natural bent.  But, what I’m learning each time God asks me to take a risk like this is that much of my hesitancy is because I place too much weight on #4.  

    I’m so thankful when God makes His direction CLEAR and I can settle in to knowing that I’m obeying Him and that the safe, best place I could be…is walking closely with Him (even if it means we’re taking pioneer-faith-stretching-leaps together).
    That’s how the adoption journey has been for us…we knew it was from Him and both times we’ve moved towards that unknown, it has been a huge blessing (though parts of the journey were very painful and caused many to question our decisions).  Still–we knew God had adoption in the plan for us.  And I’m so thankful.

    I could relate to everything you shared here…thank you Mary!

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      Feel free to share this post with your adoption friends. It hadn’t occurred to me that adoption is pioneering, but it totally is!

      • http://thechuppies.com/ Kara @ The Chuppies

        Lots of voices telling you why it’s not a good idea and doesn’t make sense…

        But God’s voice–that’s where I want to turn my ear.

        We just didn’t have many (hardly any) in our circles back then who had adopted…and so it felt pioneering-ish.And then with Selah (our first adopted little one) she died from the disease Pompe, and it was incredibly, unbelievably hard, so when we started our second adoption…there were quite a few that questioned us taking that journey again.
        But it was incredible for us to see that God used Selah’s death to cause hearts to soften towards adoption…and within a year…6 other families had adopted in our church.  And then a year later, He gave our family the gift of our little Lydia.

        But I guess I could just relate to when you were talking about how it you have to hold the “end results” loosely…because we can’t see around the corner…can’t always see God’s big story while we’re in the middle of it.

        • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

          Oh my goodness, Kara. I’m so sorry about Selah. Ouch. So sad!

          And good point, if we did see some of the tragic that would come, would we have taken the journey?

  • Jim Morris

    I’m pioneering my new business, Clarity Business Advisors, to help others achieve their business dreams by increasing value in their businesses.  There are always naysayers but if you think you can, you likely will achieve what you set out to do.  Life is about how you can help others.  Another way to state it is, we have value and part of that should be to help others increase their value to both themselves and others.  It’s part of how thing and people grow.  Check out what I offer at http://www.claritybusinessadvisors.com

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      I like that. We pioneer not to be cool pioneers but to help others.

  • http://www.matthewreedcoaching.com/ Matthew Reed

    Instead of jumping back into a career field that was leaving me and my family more and more empty, I leveraged my experience, received new training and launched out into my own business. 
    Pioneering into the world of Coaching has shown me so clearly your second point. People matter more than stuff. People matter more than making an organization big. People are what God cares about most!

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      Amen, and soooooo true!

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/DJJLMFHOJ2W2QFR2UZ76UZDLIQ Helen

    God lead me to walk directly into two major areas of fear just recently actually in the course of a week. Seeing a friend that had rejected me several years ago AND attending my 30th class reunion.  I was able to address past wounds and complete the circle of reconciliation of the friendship, coming to a place of peace. The reunion was just plain fun. I wasn’t anticipating the fun. For me, it was pioneering because my default mode is to duck and run. God is showing me that He wants me to be whole and remove those areas in my life that are thwarting His access to the true me fully. When I let Him be strong in me, I allow Him to surprise me and add new pieces of courage to my arsenal. The deep exhilaration of knowing that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me is priceless!

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      I love that you did two hard things, but found blessings in the aftermath!

  • http://SourcesOfInsight.com/ JD Meier

    > Pioneers hold the end result loosely.
    I like that.

    I’ve found that it helps to be able to hold two things in our minds, simulatneously, and to be OK with the ambiguity:
    1.  The vision of the end-in mind, to help you and others stay the course
    2.  The serendipity of what’s possible, both along the way, and in the end.

    The real trick is not to get caught up in the means, or get locked on one solution, as the only or the best answer.

    Sometimes, the best answer is … the 3rd alternative.

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      And viewing it all as an adventure because adventures have wild outcomes.

  • http://twitter.com/lrwhitney Lindsey Whitney

    I started a home day care that has been a lot of fun, but sometimes tough to keep everything in order.  Looking forward to reading Mary’s new book, Everything.  

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      Wow, you get ten gold stars for that. Here they are: **********

  • Renee

     Great words of encouragement here, Mary. I’ve plowed some pioneering ground in my extended family as one of the few believers. I think I made all the mistakes you mentioned! Then I learned to rely on the older, wiser ones God put in my path to train and encourage me. It’s been a tough but rewarding journey!

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      Good for you for plowing a new journey, Renee.

  • Hope Harris

    The greatest risk I ever took was to become a Christian in Feb of 2009.   The greatest challenges I have encountered have been to reconcile my faith and sexuality.   The best pay off  been to surrender step by step every aspect of my life to Jesus.

    “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to saving yourself, your true self. What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you? What could you ever trade your soul for?             Mark 8:34-37 the message

    So glad I  took the risk

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      Hope, I loved hearing your testimony a month or so ago. You were and are an inspiration. That’s a great translation of Mark 8, too.

  • alwaysalleluia

    I love this, Mary. I seem to need a lot of encouragement to keep going and I’m continually amazed at how God continues to provide it. That last point, that hits home hard for me. I have experienced the pushback and interference from within and I didn’t expect it when really, I should have. It has led me to pray differently for my group. I’m glad you mentioned a mnentor. Too. I have been wanting one for a long time. Prayig God will provide.

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      Jesus, provide a mentor in surprising ways!

  • paulawhidden

    Technically I’m not a pioneer because others have gone where I am, but since I didn’t know them, I feel like a pioneer.  As a female youth pastor, as a mom in ministry, now creating an online ministry for churches and individuals.  Stuff like this has been done before, but not by me.  

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      That’s totally pioneering. When you’re doing something new to you. Press on!

  • http://twitter.com/TerriPorta Terri Porta

    Great post. Sometimes just getting my toddler to try a new vegetable makes me feel like a pioneer. Every day there are opportunities to push past the expected and achieve the dynamic. Thank you for the reminder that there is also a spiritual dimension in it. 

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      LOL on that toddler comment, Terri!!!!

  • Julie@comehaveapeace

    Thanks so much for sharing this Mary. We pioneered a work in Asia that also left us bewildered. It took a long time (and is ongoing) to filter out the fruit and the lessons. Honestly, it made it hard to summon the courage to pioneer boldly after that, and that experience has added to who we are now and the new ground we break. Even as we look to our future and how God might use us, these principles are such timely reminders. So glad I read … 

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      I so appreciate what you have to say and what you walked through. I am very gun-shy now of pioneering. I wish I could say I’m supergirl ready to take on anything new, but I think I’m still walking through the process of healing.

  • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

    Mary, I appreciate knowing more of your story and the insightse that came from your pioneering experience. Having spent several years in Russia, I empathize with a great deal of your time in France. It’s tough sledding (like a spring run through the mud) when you live in a foreign culture. Nothing goes quite the way you planned.

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      So true. It’s best to go in with very little expectation.

      • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

        1st year in country, 4 things on the daily to-do list. Last year in country, 1 thing on the  daily to do list. 1st year, bummed if you didn’t get the list done. Last year, oh, well, we’ll try again tomorrow.

        • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

          That is so true! We learned that we couldn’t get tons of things done. At all. And sometimes not even one. 

  • http://www.keithferrin.com/ Keith Ferrin

    So much that’s written about pioneering is about the “mindset” and the “doing.” Glad you’ve included the “people” piece. Too often left out!

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      I know I’ve left folks out when I’ve pursued things, and later regretted it.

  • Beloved18

    In my classroom at a public high school, I am always a pioneer.   I often feel like a salmon jumping the rapids of  entitlement, secularism, popular media, and political correctness in an increasingly filthy river.   I used to be able to anticipate that at least  two or three students in a normal classroom would know the story of Adam and Eve  or of Messiah’s betrayal– and be able to understand or explain an allusion an author was making.  Recently, it is down to one or no students per class who have any familiarity with any Biblical story.   God is calling out to my mostly lost students to come home to Him– whether I get to say a word or not– through His kind encouragement and truth (and secret prayer) sown into their lives.  I am watering and planting for now and for the future– for the kids themselves, for what America will become, and for the Father who is looking down the road at prodigals from every nation He deeply loves.    I am also privileged to reach out to Jewish people with the good news about the Jewish Messiah.  My healthy Messianic congregation is a place where Jewish people who meet Messiah Yeshua (Jesus) can continue to live Jewish lives and where their children can continue to live Jewish lives, both for themselves and as a witness to friends and family that a person can remain Jewish and believe in Messiah.

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      Two amazing places to pioneer! Thanks for sharing your story. I used to teach junior high, so I understand. Thanks for being salt and light.

  • http://anointedwithgrace.com/ Allison

    Great article, Mary. Loved this quote: “Instead God called us to a series of seemingly small, insignificant things for the sake of an ending only He could dream up.” We all see ourselves working for God in a huge way, but often He calls us to the seemingly small things!

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      And it often seems easier to obey for the spectacular than the mundane.

  • Julie Jensen

    Mary, such wise words!  Being a pioneer is the hardest thing I have ever done, and at times it would be easier to say “Forget it!  I’ll just go get a job….”  Still, as every pioneer knows, the biggest battle is in getting up and doing it all over again the next day and the next day and the next….Love your perspective of holding the results loosely.  Many days I’m not sure where I’m going…..still the trek continues.  Great words!

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      Yes, the trek continues. It’s often just being obedient in the small things.

  • http://www.runningbythebook.com/ Corinne

    Great post!  Thanks for sharing a bit of your story, Mary.  It is hard to step out and do something new.  I moved across the country, quit my job and wrote a book (and I have never written anything before) that doesn’t fit into a publisher’s box, so I am having to pave my own way in the publishing world.  When you take the path untraveled  it is easy to get discouraged –and lost– so you have to keep returning to God, listening to His voice, making sure you are on HIS path.  I have found that surrounding myself with prayer warriors, people who love me, will go to bat for me and aren’t afraid to tell me the truth, have been instrumental in my sanity and my success.    

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      I so agree. One of the first things I did when I started my publishing journey was to initiate a prayer team. One of the best things I’ve ever done. We’re 75 strong now.

  • http://encourageyourpositive.cherishedlife.net/ MelAnn

    I love being a pioneer!  And though I never thought of it in such an organized way – I certainly agree with everything you wrote here.  To sum it up, it’s an adventure! 

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      Well, that makes my crazy-organized mind very happy, thanks.

  • http://twitter.com/LesliePWilson Leslie P. Wilson

    Thanks for your insights and authenticity, Mary. What seems ultra-sad to me is how much push-back I’ve receive from fellow believers. One of about 1,000 reasons my husband and I like to work with youth! But if anything is God-ordained, it will succeed. Thank you for reminding us of that today.

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      Great insight, Leslie. I’ve had the same experience. The greatest resistance my husband and I face is often from other Christians. Not always sure why, although I wonder if it’s because pioneering shakes the status quo. “Status quo” wears far more comfortably than “new” or “different.”

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      Yeah, that’s bewildering!

  • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

    Eight years ago my husband quit his job of nearly 20 years to start his own business. Our boys were 7, 10, and 12 at the time. On the outside, the decision looked reckless, irresponsible, definitely not safe. But it was the right decision for our family and we have not regretted it a day since. Our biggest challenge was learning to be comfortable with the discomfort of risk, changing the fear underneath “What if…” to more of a sense of adventure and expectation.

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      And did you experience pushback when you pioneered that path?

      • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

        I’d prefer to say I faced external pushback, but my greatest struggle was against myself. For a host of reasons, financial security was huge to me. To go from a weekly paycheck and security to no paycheck and complete insecurity was a huge leap. For about a year, I had to fight my own fear and need to control to allow God to do His work in and through my husband’s new business. Whew! I got a good workout, I can tell you that.

  • Acg_mag

    Thank you for this post.  I wish I had read #4 (Pioneers understand that there will be opposition) before I pioneered emphasizing nutrition and stress reduction at the old church I used to attend.  After God started blessing me for it, I learned that the wolves in sheep’s clothing are actually in the church and that people, Christian or not, are not too friendly about change. 

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      Here’s a post I wrote about those pesky wolves: http://www.marydemuth.com/2011/09/spiritual-abuse-10-ways-to-spot-it/

      • Acg_mag

        Oh my goodness, I just read it!  You understand! Thank you so much.  They really were bullies- I am strengthened now and in a very good church.  But this piece you wrote… I will use it and my experience to help others.  Abused like Jesus but RECOVERED and RESTORED to continue better, stronger and wiser!

  • Leigh Hudson

    Mary, your words are thoughtful. I appreciate the importance of a mentor relationship. I’m doing something I’ve never done before: writing a book. Saying it makes it seem more real.

    My spiritual mentor pours into me. I can see the value, now, in finding a writing mentor. I’ve also recognized the importance of holding loosely to outcomes. I just keep showing up to write and God does a new thing in me and my craft each time. I’ve also been keenly aware of how my new focus affects those closest to me. I’m seeing my personal boundaries change to support this new venture. And spiritual warfare…yes, I see it every day.

    Thank you for the post. It has helped me remember this is a pioneering work I’m doing!

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      Yes, book writing is totally pioneering work. May the Lord provide a great writing mentor. Do you have a writers group in your area?

      • http://twitter.com/leighahudson Leigh Hudson

        I had a hard time getting my first response to post and now I see they both did. Oh well. Like I said…technologically challenged! 
        I’m not sure if there is a writer’s group or not. Perhaps I can google it!

        • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

          There is a listing in the back of this book: http://amzn.to/Maa4Sl

  • http://twitter.com/leighahudson Leigh Hudson

    Mary, thank you for this post. I’m writing my first book, but I never thought about it as pioneering. Your four points hit home. Although I have a spiritual mentor, I need a writing mentor. Also, I’ve begun to create boundaries around my writing time but that has affected my family. Although supportive, they want time with me too. I’m learning how to balance it all plus work my day job as a Christian counselor. And there is definitely a spiritual dimension happening. It would take an entire post for me to share how many obstacles have been placed along my path. Also, when I began writing, I had an entirely different understanding of what my book would look like. I’m learning to just show up and write and be flexible with the outcome. 


    Leigh Hudson

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      It’s hard to establish boundaries with writing. Hang in there. And, yes, sometimes projects morph into other monsters! :)

  • Laurapolk

    I love this post. I’m branching out with a new ministry in September and it feels so overwhelming at times. I can especially relate to the opposition point, though most of it seems to be coming from my own head! I know there is a deeper opposition at play. Thanks for the reminder.

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      Ah yes! Our heads! They can be problematic.

  • SlurvianNoxzema62

    And though the lessons I learned in the process were sometimes excruciating, I can honestly say I’m better for the pioneering.

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      So glad to hear that. 

  • http://www.MariaKeckler.com/ Maria Keckler

    What a great way to put it, Mary. It seems like my life has been marked by pioneering too.  Most recently, it’s about walking away from the comfort and security of a 9-5 job to be a writer, storyteller, and entrepreneur.  All of what you talk about is true.  I particularly appreciate the mentors in my life, and you are one of them — even from a distance.

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      Congrats on becoming a storyteller! And how cool I can be an at-a-distance mentor.

  • http://www.pierrecquinn.com/ Pierre Quinn

    Loved this post. I’ve started work as a pastor of a 60 member church that has 300 seats. Sharing with them the vision of moving forward and stretching ourselves to see what God will do. I definitely feel like a pioneer. Thanks for reminder of staying connected to a mentor and being prepared to face opposition. All pioneers do right?

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      Great to hear, Pierre. May the Lord overflow that sanctuary and fill those seats!

    • Martinre6

      Pierce, love your vision for your church. Ive talked with countless pastors whose definition of success was head count. Unfortunately, most left the ministry burnt out, and depressed. I pray when you look out at those 60 people you will see Gods amazing love and grace in their lives. What an opportunity God has given you to minister to his people. Blessings,Martin

  • http://2sweetthings.blogspot.com Mandy

    Love this! I am in a time of pioneering right now, I think, though I may not have thought of it like that until this post. I just recently said a big YES to something that I have been tip-toeing around for a long time. God has been nudging me to speak more… I lead a Bible Study and am involved in ministry to moms, but for years I have felt like He wants me to do more. For the first time the other day, I told someone I consider a mentor that this was a direction I felt He was leading me, and she confirmed that even she could see that. So I felt like God has His mighty hand on me and is getting ready to open up something new… so excited for this journey and feeling ready to take it on (finally!). Thanks for these tips!

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      That is so cool your mentor could see the gifting too!

  • http://talesofwork.com/ kimanzi constable

    My journey to quit a job that makes me miserable to do the work that I’m passionate about is my little pioneering mission. It hasn’t been easy but I know it will be worth it! Great post as always Mary!

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      Thanks Kimanzi, and thanks for being a pioneer inspiration!

  • http://intentionaltoday.com/ Ngina Otiende

    What great insights Mary. I have done a bit of pioneering works in the past but i think the biggest was moving 8,000 miles away from home and starting life, career, business and ministry (not manifested yet but will in time) afresh. 

    Our mentors, though thousands of miles away, have kept our heads straight. We continue to submit our plans and hopes to God – frankly there is no other way other than hold everything loosely, trusting Him to lead.

    Thank you for this encouraging post. God bless you!

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      8000 miles is a lot of miles. I’m glad you’ve stayed close to your mentors.

  • Auntpurple

    Maybe I’m  mini-pioneer? I’m not doing large things, but I think I am pioneering in several ways. I just returned to a company I had worked for before to be a director. I am learning to lead a team in influence a company. Several years ago, I started self-publishing cookbooks and I am still learning new and better ways to market those. I wrote a non-fiction book and I’m learning to market it as well. I think pioneering involves a certain spirit–fascination with a new thing–whether it’s a job or a place or whatever.

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      You definitely sound like a pioneer! Yes, I agree, a fascination with the new is a good trait to have. 

  • http://jennym-talesfromtheredhead.blogspot.com/ Jennifer Major

    I’m not sure just how “pioneer-y” I am, but my book, and future books, will deal with the raw and hushed up issues of inter-racial, inter-cultural marriages. Some in the North American church don’t want to touch the race or color issue. There are still MANY believers for whom the touch of a darker colored hand is enough to swing a fist or word.
    We lost family over my mother’s choice of a very dark skinned 2nd husband after her lily white 1st husband took a walk with his pregnant mistress.
    I’m also writing about a period in American history that many either don’t know about, or don’t want to know about.
    For me, breaking the chain of prejudice is like being at the bow of the sailboat, with sheets unfurled, lines taut and the crew on the edge, just hanging on. We tack back and forth, always with the goal in sight.  I can see where I’m taking my readers, but ohhh, the journey is longer than it needs to be and the wind in my face is fierce.

    I won’t back down.

    I just won’t.

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      I absolutely love that you’re writing about this. Thank you. Keep being faithful and brave.

      • http://jennym-talesfromtheredhead.blogspot.com/ Jennifer Major


        • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

          You are welcome. :)

  • http://www.kathink.blogspot.com/ Kathleen Jaeger

    “We were going to do “huge things.” Instead God called us to a series of
    seemingly small, insignificant things for the sake of an ending only He
    could dream up. If we had clung to our idea of the end result, we
    would’ve languished in disillusionment and counted our pioneering as
    failure.” Wow! This statement is huge — thank you for putting this into words. Much of my following God has been this!

    I would add to your post the word effective.  Your four points illustrate what effective pioneers do and I appreciate it you sharing them so much.

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      Thanks Kathleen. Yes, effective would be a good addition.

  • Didarsingh

    self satisfaction & respect in pioneering

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      Yes, finding joy in doing what you love (self satisfaction) is important.

  • http://messymiddle.com/ Amy Young

    “In risking, we grow.” Yes, simply, yes.

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      Glad that blessed, Amy.

  • Jen Harris

    Such a timely post for me, Mary!  Tomorrow our family will move our church membership from the church that has been home and family to us for over 16 years to a tiny, struggling mission church 20 miles away.  We are SO excited about the work that God is doing in this move, but we know that there will be challenges as well (there have already been a few. :))  I think I’m going to print this post and put it in my quiet time notebook to re-read through the coming days.  

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      I’m so glad you’re stepping out. May the Lord reward you for your risk. Leaving stability is never easy, but there will be awesome rewards.

  • Erika Heywood

    I’ve always pioneered – at school, in church life and leadership. I guess it’s just the way God wired me. I love seeing something new come to fruition, love it when I can build something that benefits others, and actually had enjoyed paying the price that comes with the call. The toughest thing I’ve ever learned, our to be honest, that I am learning, is how to pay that price as a mum. How to keep that pioneering spirit, press in when there is a battle, but still be the mum my kids need every day.

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      Yes, motherhood is definitely pioneering, and sometimes not rewarded. Keep up the difficult but joyful work!

  • Jonathan Pierce

    Doing something new especially in an established church and congregation takes real courage. Its hard to get others to buy into your vision but very exciting when people engage and give it a go

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      Agreed. It’s hard, hard, hard to change a church culture.

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  • messymarriage

    I resonate with so much of this, Mary. It really encourages me in a few areas of my life that I’ve recently begun to see God’s purposes in, but that still “feel” like are failures. Thanks so much for this challenge to my perspective.

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      Yes, obedience is never failure–even if you’re not seeing results.

  • Jill Jones

    This is very good and wise advice.  Thanks for sharing what you’ve learned.

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      Thanks Jill. Jesus gives the wisdom.

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  • http://twitter.com/abbysnews Abby Van Wormer

    thank you for sharing these truths that you have learned :).  i am not a pioneer, but i can see by reading this that pioneers don’t give up!

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      And you have that tenaciousness too, Abby.

      • http://twitter.com/abbysnews Abby Van Wormer

        thank you for saying that! :)

        • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

          Go Abby go. Whether you’re a pioneer or not, it’s always good to sense what God is saying, then obey what He says even when it’s hard.

  • Lorigunn Quinn

    I definitely see myself as a pioneer. Three years ago i left the corporate world when I was layed off from my job at a major publisher. I had the luxury of not rushing into another job, so I didn’t. That time that I had to listen to myself and to what I felt God was telling me launched me into a new phase in my life that has been truly life-changing. I had lots of time too, to look back and remember who I was, see who I had become, and what I had sacrificed of myself during those successful career years. What drives me now is very different, it’s truer to who I am  and my long term goals as a person. This often comes with financial insecurity, but the rewards and blessings I’ve received as a result of truly “stepping out” make it all worthwhile. Mike thanks for your honesty…I worked alongside you in your earlier years. I learned from you then, I learn from you now. I appreciate you and respect you. God has richly blessed you!

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      Thanks for sharing your journey–you’re an inspiration! Stepping out into something new is risky but amazingly rewarding.

  • Kristinkaufman

    This is a beautiful, reaffirming blog on Faith. Often embarking on a pioneering journey is, frankly, scary (it has been for me), and courage anchored in faith is the only way to move forward and take the first step. Thank  you, Michael, for your inspiring blog. I have enjoyed it so very much.

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      I’m glad it inspired, and yes, pioneering is scary.

  • http://www.livebeyondawesome.com/ Jen McDonough

    @MaryDemuth:disqus – GREAT blog! Sometimes it is hard to see what the end result is when we do things isn’t it? Love the quote” God called us to a series of seemingly small, insignificant things for the sake of an ending only He could dream up.” While we don’t always “see the end results” such a blessing when He lets us.
    Many thanks for the uplifting post!
    Live Beyond Awesome!

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      Thanks for the kind words, Jen.

  • Revsantharao

     Greetings to
    you in the mighty name of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. 
    visiting your website we are much inspired and led by Holy Spirit to
    introduce ourselves and invite you to visit us in India.
    am an ordained Pastor, worked for more than 10 years as a parish pastor
    for Andhra Evangelical Lutheran Church in Guntur district of Andhra
    Pradesh State in India.
    I came out from the church by God”s calling and started working individually where the
    Gospel is  un-reached and the people never heard the name of Jesus
    Christ.  Many people here in India worship idols of several Gods and
    Goddesses for their health and wealth.  They offer different types of
    sacrifices to please their deities.  
    we are visiting such horrible places to redeem the people from their
    vain practices and bring them into the fold of Jesus Christ.
    prayerfully decided to invite you with the power of Holy Spirit to
    visit us and to preach the Gospel to emancipate from sin, sickness and
    believe that your visit may help us to bring all these people from the
    darkness to light and make them to accept Jesus Christ as their personal
    we r planning to condacting crusades and pastors conferences Children
    camps and youth meetings.so we are inviting you heart-fully
    Please let
    us know your prayerful consent to our request and keep us in your
    prayers to move forward to win the souls for His Glory.
    Yours in His service,
    Rev. T. Santha Rao,

  • http://www.sallyferguson.net/ Sally Ferguson

    #3  I’ve found it is more interesting to plan for grandiose things, but the Lord’s plans include doing dishes and serving my family.  There’s no pomp and circumstance, but I’m going for obedience over fame and fortune!

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      Lalalalalala, that’s me singing to praise you for your dish doing! 

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  • mstracy

    nice post. I still need to work on a few things clearly..

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      Ah, we’re all works in progress.

  • http://www.liveitforward.com/ Kent Julian

    Mary, I really like your thoughts on “holding the end results loosely.” I started a business 8 years ago and what I do now compared to what I originally wrote in my business plan are…let’s just say…very different. Yet what Live It Forward LLC does today is so much more in line with my mission and vision than what I originally wrote in that business plan. If I had held to the planned end results too tightly, I’d never experience the wonderful things I’m experiencing today.

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      That’s a great point, Kent. We have an idea, but only God knows where He wants to take us.

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  • http://www.shannonmilholland.blogspot.com Shannon Milholland

    Pioneering is incredibly difficult. When God puts big dreams in your heart, the ones closest to you pay a higher price than you do. Love this post, Mary.

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      Yes, in France, it hurt to know our kids paid a price too.

      • http://www.shannonmilholland.blogspot.com Shannon Milholland

        I think our kids pay a price anytime we’re in ministry, don’t you? They sacrifice along with us which is why it’s so important to keep our family bonds strong and secure.

  • http://cruabroad.com/ Jason Coorts

    I’m pioneering a new missions arm within a college campus ministry, a study abroad program that’s part missions, part academic. The job is giving me life, but it’s a good reminder to not hold tightly to the results. 

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      I love that! I pray it goes very, very well.

  • http://beckfarfromhome.blogspot.com/ Beck Gambill

    I find myself in a time of pioneering I didn’t seek or expect. I’m beginning the journey of homeschooling, huge pioneer task for me. As school begins I’m also planning a journey to Serbia with my best friend to a mental institution in Veternik. All I know is God said go and I’m going. We’ll see what his purpose is when I get there! How’s that for pioneering. Scares and exhilaration me at the same time! Thanks for sharing the lessons you’ve learned on your own journey Mary. I take them to heart.

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      Wow, a mental institution? May Jesus be near and do amazing things.

  • Mary Agrusa

    I am pioneering on two fronts, learning to day trade and writing a weekly blog. Each has it’s unique challenges (not unlike typing this post on my phone). Mary’s insights are right on the money concerning the uphill long term climb necessary in any new venture, especially when the novelty wears off. Thanks for sharing your story Mary.

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      Yes, and that novelty wears off quickly.

  • http://www.love-laugh-learn.com/ Deanna

    Our lives grow rich from mentors in all areas. I’ve been praying for a professional mentor; they are hard to find! Thanks for sharing Sandra’s site :)

    • http://TillerFamily.org/ John Tiller

      Deanna, check out BuildingChampions.com. They have some excellent professional mentors. I hope that helps!

      • http://www.love-laugh-learn.com/ Deanna

        Thanks, John. I will check it out!

  • http://twitter.com/toddbnielsen Todd Nielsen

    It is great to see an article that honors the and takes knowledge from the many great pioneers that have molded the world. I wrote an article just over a month ago called “5 Steps to Become a Pioneer That Makes Great Things Happen!”  Your article aligns well with what I proposed. http://www.asliceofleadership.com/leadership-pioneer/5-steps-to-become-a-pioneer-that-makes-great-things-happen/

    Todd Nielsen

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      Thanks for sharing the link, Todd.

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  • nada

    Thank you for the words written.  It is more than sharing the experience by writing.  It is imparting the knowledge, wisdom and forewarning, free of charge, for those able to receive.  Your experience shared, also gives strength to the heart.

  • Rebecca

    Well the reason why I was asking you did you remember my case because, I have already seen results. He called me on Jan 4th to wish me a happy birthday, and I called him on the 6th to wish him a happy birthday. We had a nice long conversation, and I expressed to him how he made me feel. He apologized over and over. Then after that conversation I didn’t hear from him until around the 8th of Feb. I started calling my phone, and I kept missing his calls because my phone was on silent. Well that third day of him not getting a response from me, he sent me a heartfelt email apologizing again, and saying how much he missed me and wanted to hold me in his arms. At the end of the email he stated that he loved me, in which he has never said those words to me. I still love him also, but its hard now to be with him because I will be moving 5 states away and I don’t want to start something back up with him, knowing we can’t be together. So I just want to thank you High – Dr madurai of maduraitemple@yahoo.com