bill hybels

10 Characteristics of a Pioneer - Part 3


Holy Discontent, Leaving Your Comfort Zone, and Blazing New Trails

With a new generation upon us, we need to step up and lead them like never before. How do we prepare ourselves to reach them? Tune in to today's podcast as we take a look at the next three factors of a pioneer.

Hi Victory Nation! We are continuing our discussion about pioneers and if you've missed the last two, you can find them under the "Inside MyVictory Podcasts" tab above. Here is a quick recap of the first five characteristics:

  1. The pioneer is about risk. The settler is about routine.
  2. Pioneers often don't fit in.
  3. Pioneers are dreamers.
  4. Pioneers are willing to go where they have never been, to do what they have never done.
  5. Pioneers are willing to put up with what is less than ideal.

Now, let's get started with the next few!

6. Pioneers always want to go further.

Pioneers always have a holy discontent, a term Bill Hybels describes as an "experience of an uneasy spirit about the brokenness of this world which aligns with the heart of God that spurs us to take positive action to change the world." It's not a discontent about personal gain, but rather a discontent on behalf of God and His kingdom.

Too many people quit just before the breakthrough. Either they stop because it just became too difficult to press on, or because they lost that factor of holy discontent. Pioneers must always desire to go further in taking the hope of Jesus to a broken world.

7. Pioneers are resilient, resourceful, and tenacious.

Pioneers are a tough breed of people who simply refuse to quit. They would rather die than go back to their old, dull way of life. These people are constantly pushing themselves to grow. John Maxwell aptly stated, "If we are growing we are always going to be outside our comfort zone."

To test your limits, pursue your personal best daily. Constantly strive to improve, becoming better with each successive day. This attitude requires that you learn to be comfortable living outside of your comfort zone.

8. Pioneers cultivate the tough land.

Each generation of pioneers must plow a way for the next. We don't have to reinvent the wheel - we can take off where other pioneers have left off.

When Jesus rose from the dead, He didn't stick around forever to oversee the most important work on the planet. No, He ascended into heaven and delegated that responsibility to His disciples and every successive generation.

I think the church needs to pioneer more so today than ever before. In Marching Off the Map, Tim Elmore says, "Settlers will be left in the dust as the young people we lead disconnect from us and find others they can follow to new places. Or, they will forge ahead with no mentors at all." If the world pioneers and the church doesn't, the next generation will begin pursuing the world or simply nothing at all.

Pastor George Hill says, "We dream, we live the dream, and in living the dream we dream again." We have to constantly re-evaluate and re-invent our methods. The message we need to portray is too powerful for us to settle. The church is the hope of the world and we are on a mission to reach every available person, at every available time, by every available means, with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, by creating churches that unchurched people love to attend.

Episode Resources

If you are interested in learning more about pioneers, we would encourage you to grab a copy of Marching Off the Map by Tim Elmore. You can find it here.

If you have questions you would like answered in an upcoming podcast, please email

The 30 Books Every Pastor Should Read

I love to read! I try to maintain a 1-book per week pace, and because of that, I am often asked "what's the best book you've read lately?" So here you go! Here's a list of the 30 most influential books I've read to date that have helped me as a pastor and a leader. If you click on the title of the book that interests you it will take you directly to where you can order a copy of your own. Remember, leaders are readers. Enjoy!

My top 30 in alphabetical order:

  1. 7 Practices of Effective Ministry by Andy Stanley

  2. 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John Maxwell

  3. Axiom: Powerful Leadership Proverbs by Bill Hybels

  4. Becoming a Coaching Leader: The Proven System for Building Your Own Team of Champions by Daniel Harkavy

  5. Church Planting: God's Plan for Transformation by George Hill

  6. Communicating for a Change: Seven Keys to Irresistible Communication by Andy Stanley

  7. Covenant Relationships by George Hill

  8. Cracking Your Church's Culture Code: Seven Keys to Unleashing Vision and Inspiration by Dr. Sam Chand

  9. Deep and Wide: Creating Churches Unchurched People Love to Attend by Andy Stanley

  10. Goals!: How to Get Everything You Want -- Faster Than You Ever Thought Possible by Brian Tracey

  11. Leadership Pain: The Classroom for Growth by Dr. Sam Chand

  12. Living Your Strengths: Discover Your God-Given Talents and Inspire Your Community by Donald Clifton

  13. No Perfect People Allowed: Creating a Come-as-You-Are Culture in the Church by John Burke

  14. The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith by Timothy Keller

  15. Passing the Leadership Baton: A Winning Transition Plan for Your Ministry by Tom Mullins

  16. Purpose Driven Church by Rick Warren

  17. Simple Church: Returning to God's Process for Making Disciples by Thom Rainer & Eric Geiger

  18. Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action by Simon Sinek

  19. Sticky Teams: Keeping Your Leadership Team And Staff On The Same Page by Larry Osborne

  20. Surprising Insights From The Unchurched And Proven Ways To Reach Them by Thom Rainer

  21. The 5 Levels of Leadership: Proven Steps to Maximize Your Potential by John Maxwell

  22. The Big Idea: Aligning the Ministries of Your Church through Creative Collaboration by Dave Ferguson

  23. The Leader Who Had No Title: A Modern Fable on Real Success in Business and in Life by Robin Sharma

  24. The Mentor Leader: Secrets to Building People and Teams That Win Consistently by Tony Dungy

  25. One Minute Manager Meets the Monkey by Ken Blanchard

  26. The Richest Man Who Ever Lived: King Solomon's Secrets to Success, Wealth, and Happiness by Stephen K. Scott

  27. Today Matters: 12 Daily Practices to Guarantee Tomorrows Success by John Maxwell

  28. Visioneering: God's Blueprint for Developing and Maintaining Vision by Andy Stanley

  29. Volunteer Revolution by Bill Hybels

  30. Winning on Purpose: How to Organize Congregations to Succeed in Their Mission by John Kaiser

Axioms - Language Matters

“Leaders rise and fall by the language they use.” Pastor Bill Hybels made this statement at the beginning of his outstanding book, Axiom - Powerful Leadership Proverbs.

Hybels claimed the right words will make a vision take flight.
 Sometimes whole visions live or die on the basis of the words the leader chooses for articulating that vision. 
He gave an example of a time when he was trying to rally his church to compassionate outreach in their community. He wrestled and wrestled with the right words to articulate what he was feeling. Hybels said he spent much more time wrestling over the memorable axiom than he did over the rest of his sermon. It wasn't good enough to say we are going “to be compassionate.” The right phrase would have to inspire and motivate. Finally, after more than a day pondering the right phrase, he settled on “we are going to unleash unprecedented amounts of compassion into our broken world.”
 Words like unleash and unprecedented acted as the motivating factors he was looking for. The results were amazing. The congregation was excited and did unleash unprecedented amounts of compassion on their community and thousands of people were touched because this one phrase was so motivating.

Carefully chosen phrases can make strategic plans sound like rally cries. As leaders our words matter. That's the premise of the book and if we as leaders would take the time to carefully craft memorable axioms we could motivate our congregations to a cause like never before. For example, when I was pastoring in Okotoks, I discovered that the greatest need in the community was the need for identity and purpose. I desired to rally people around these two problems and felt that our new church could be the solution. I sensed that Ephesians 4:11-12 would be our guide and that we as the church would "equip the saints with the work of the ministry." But how could I articulate what was in my heart in a short memorable phrase that would make our strategic plan come alive? After much digging we settled on “Our Dream is to Help You Build Yours.”
 This worked exactly as we had hoped. It became our rallying cry and enabled us to reach hundreds of people with the gospel of Jesus.

Hybels claimed that axioms bolster a culture and steady it against the winds of change.
 I believe this to be the absolute truth. I have discovered that the natural gravitational pull of the local church is to be insider focused. When that happens the church becomes more about performance and appearance than outreach and care. To resist this natural drift in our church we adopted John Burke's axiom “No perfect people allowed.” This simple, memorable phrase is often repeated by all of our members and bolsters the culture we are trying to establish so that we can consistently and more effectively reach the unchurched.

This book is a must read for every leader and especially every pastor. It's a simple little secret that can make you more effective in casting vision and making your visions stick over time. Order your copy today by clicking HERE.

Questions: What "axioms" do you use to bolster your vision and culture? Do you have personal axioms that guide you or your family?