SIX CHARACTERISTICS OF A PIONEERING LEADER

It takes courage to let go of where we are and reach for what’s ahead. It takes courage to uproot—mentally, emotionally, and sometimes physically—to press on and fulfill what God’s called us to do. To embrace new roles. Launch new ventures. Expand our reach.

I know it has for me. Every. Single. Time.

As I’ve grabbed hold of initiatives God placed in my heart—like A21 and Propel Women—I’ve learned to be flexible and let God expand my capacity and develop his courageous pioneering spirit within me—that spirit of venturing forward into unknown territory, trusting God is with me all the way. Time and time again, I have put my faith in what God said to Joshua and the children of Israel when it was time to cross the Jordan River into the Promised Land:

“Then you will know which way to go, since you have never been this way before…and the Lord will do amazing things among you” (Joshua 3:4-5).

Joshua committed himself to the Lord, and God did exactly as he promised in this verse—and he’s calling us to do the same thing—to be willing to go even though we’ve never been this way before. Simply put, we’re not always going to know all the details about the way forward, so we’ll have to courageously pioneer as we go.

A pioneer is defined as someone who is “the first to open or prepare—a way, settlement or region—thus opening it for occupation or development by others.” In other words, a pioneer goes first. Before everyone else. They are selfless, assertive and forward-thinking. A leader.

That’s who God has called you to be.

Like Joshua. And like Paul. Another leader who let God develop a pioneering spirit in him:

…I have trailblazed a preaching of the Message of Jesus all the way from Jerusalem far into northwestern Greece. This has all been pioneer work, bringing the Message only into those places where Jesus was not yet known and worshiped. My text has been, Those who were never told of him— they’ll see him! Those who’ve never heard of him— they’ll get the message!” (Romans 15:17-21, The Message).

A pioneer leader is the opposite of a settler—someone who is “sedentary, stationary, maintaining.” I learned early on in our ministry, that we weren’t called to a “maintenance ministry,” but to a pioneering organization, and we have seen that develop in every initiative over the years.

I realize that maintaining systems and procedures is necessary—and always will be—but I know the Spirit of God wants us simultaneously looking for how we can pioneer development and growth for the future personally and corporately. He wants the pioneering spirit of leadership alive in every one of us. As you influence others—at home, at work and in your community, intentionally develop pioneering leadership qualities. I have found pioneers to be:

  1. Self-starters—a person who is sufficiently motivated to move forward without the help of others. “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters” (Colossians 3:23).

  2. Intrinsically motivated—someone who is driven by internal rewards. “Since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving” (Colossians 3:24).

  3. Able to rally others to a cause—passionate people who always inspire others. “In everything set them an example by doing what is good…” (Titus 2:7-8).

  4. Persistent and committed—someone who continues on course in spite of any difficulties or obstacles. “Diligent hands will rule…” (Proverbs 12:24).

  5. Creative, innovative and imaginative—exercises critical thinking featuring original and advanced ideas and methods. “Behold I am doing a new thing, now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?” (Isaiah 43:19).

  6. Bridge builders—someone who brings others together and likes to see them flourish. “I write this to you, Timothy, the son I love so much…keep at your work, this faith and love rooted in Christ, exactly as I set it out for you. It’s as sound as the day you first heard it from me. Guard this precious thing placed in your custody by the Holy Spirit who works in us” (2 Timothy 1:1;13-14).

What has God called you to pioneer? A business? A team? Start reframing these six characteristics into your leadership influence. Start looking for the paths God wants you to forge for the future. And then move forward pushing through every challenge, never losing sight of what God has called you to do. There are heroes of our faith—great saints who were pioneers—all looking down from heaven cheering us on:

Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!” (Hebrews 12:1-3).

How can we not succeed with such heroes of faith—pioneering leaders who’ve gone before us—cheering us on? So let’s move forward—even though we’ve never been this way before. We certainly will at A21 and Propel Women. We’ll always foster a pioneering, innovative, entrepreneurial spirit at every level. It’s how we will ensure we never inadvertently become settlers who quit moving forward.

Christine Caine

Christine Caine is an Australian-born, Greek-blooded activist, author and international speaker. She is cofounder of the anti-human trafficking organization, The A21 Campaign, the founder of Propel Women and the author of the new book Unashamed: Drop the Baggage, Pick Up Your Freedom, Fulfill Your Destiny. For more information visit www.christinecaine.com.

   

Join the discussion

Jane Pierantozzi July 18, 2017 at 1:43pm

Thanks for these words of encouragement. I was getting discouraged because the work God gave me to do is so hard right and sometimes I think maybe I'm not the right person if it is this hard and am is this still what God wants me to do? I want to finish the race and accomplish what God has asked of me - I started a non profit no kill animal shelter in DE at God's calling and turned around the high kill rate with God leading the way we accomplished so much but now taking the shelter to the next level it seems everything is going against us and I'm tired. This helped me to stay the course.

Roxanne July 8, 2017 at 2:48pm

Thanks Christine! This article was confirmation for me of what and who I am. A word in season. Thank you for being diligent to what God has called you to do. You have made an impact on me many oceans and thousands of miles away!

Kathleen Lapp July 6, 2017 at 11:39am

Christine, this brought me to tears! I've always been passionate about pioneering & you put language to things that are deep in my spirit. Thank you so much!

Liz July 5, 2017 at 1:40am

Awesome article!

SHEILA July 2, 2017 at 11:52am

This was a WORD straight to ME today! thank you!

Jazmin July 2, 2017 at 10:14am

It's incredible how one article just reaffirms what I've been sensing in my spirit. Ive had a community project brewing in me for some time now and just wondering if it was possible to start a huge dream, on my own (for now). Something that my community has never seen or experienced. Simply put, I just want to say thank you Christine and Propel Women team for cultivating a platform to reach women and young ladies like me, whom simply needed someone to remind them to take courage, take the first step, and have faith that God will do the rest. Blessings.

Susan Gruener July 2, 2017 at 3:35am

Such great words of wisdom. This is a keeper I will refer back to. Also a new verse in Joshua for me to memorize!
Thanks and God's blessings on everything you put your hands to!