The Difference Between Being Visionary and Being a Pioneer

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We like visionaries who can see past where things are right now to something better. They are the ones who can see through all the clutter to see with clarity what could be. It is important we have people like that. What is even more impressive is someone who implements vision. Some can see the possibility….others blaze the trail. That is the difference between a visionary and a pioneer. One can see it. The other takes steps to making it a reality.

Take the invention of flight. DaVinci could envision it centuries before it took place. He could see it clearly in his mind. He just didn’t have the means or understanding to make what he was drawing come off the page and actually fly. A few hundred years later you have a bunch of guys you have probably never heard of who started innovating. Otto Lillenthal invented gliders that could fly but were unpowered. Samuel Langley gave gliders power in 1891. His powered model plane flew a full ¾ miles! More than 10 years later came the Wright brothers. They knew what had been done before and knew that what had been done in the past didn’t achieve a meaningful goal. If you goal is to hang glide at the mercy of the wind then the problem is solved. If your goal is to watch model planes fly in random directions then the problem was solved. But if you want people on planes that have power to go and the ability to steer to a specific location…that hadn’t been done. That was the problem they were addressing. They weren’t pioneers because they made the first plane. That had already been done and was old news. What made them pioneers in flight was that they did combined three things no one else had put together in a way that solved a real problem and evolved into an enormous industry today.

What moves Jesus from the category of visionary to pioneer is his authority, ability and passion to move things in the direction of God’s vision (of course God was empowering this whole thing which makes him far more than a visionary himself). Jesus didn’t just talk restoration. He embodied it, practiced it and passed it on to capable people. Jesus didn’t just talk resurrection. He was the first fruits from the grave. Jesus didn’t just give a heavenly hope. He came from there, showed us the way and then returned.

Hebrews 12:1-3 says,

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus,the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”

Jesus blazed the trail and asks us to follow. Too often we like to blaze new trails. We like to innovate. That can be good and must be done at times. I fear that those pursuits can often distract us from the simple truths and core values of Jesus Christ. Pioneers are easy to spot because there is a visible trail between where we are and where they are taking us. Will we walk that path or try in vain to forge a new one? The best way to get in tune with Jesus’ path is to get hungry for the Gospels again. Read them. Soak them up. Then embody them personally.

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