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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  • 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