To Boldly Go Where No One Has Gone…

Bailey ButtersOrganizational Life

(Part four of a four-part series examining Deloitte’s Business Chemistry®and its implications for faith-based organizations.)


It is a pretty bold proposition.  There is a God who created this unfathomable ever-expanding universe; this beautiful breath-taking planet; these complex, creative, loving people; these richly diverse heart-warming hope-giving children and this God to have a life-changing relationship with people tapped you on the shoulder and asked for your help. Are you laughing yet?  Seriously, really?   Short answer?  Yep.  God has, still does, and will continue to call ordinary people to an extraordinary life of service.  It takes a great deal of faith, some chutzpah, a tremendous amount of risk, and a fair amount of resilience to accept such a call and go where few have gone before.  Such is the reality that the ranks of the clergy, as well as some dedicated laity who still believe the church is God’s chosen instrument for transformation, are filled with what Deloitte’s Business Chemistry® model describes as Pioneers.

As we have described in the previous three segments, Deloitte creatively drew from the disciplines of neuro-anthropology and genetics to develop an analytics-driven tool for understanding and leveraging differences between people. Their system is both actionable and memorable and designed to help people understand what makes people click or clash.  They aim to equip individuals to recognize behavioral patterns in others so that they can flex and adapt in ways that improve effectiveness and collaboration.  To learn more or take the assessment click here.  For an overview and map of the behavioral system click here.

Pioneer Strengths

Pioneers love to imagine what can exist beyond the status quo.  Send them to a thriving, healthy, results-driven organization and they will find a way to imagine a better future. Send them into an organization that is struggling, broken, drifting, and they will bring hope.  What if, imagine this, picture this are phrases that Pioneers will employ on a regular basis.  Noted Atlanta minister and founder of North Point Community Church, Andy Stanley will often call the listener to imagine a life beyond their status quo to a better life with God.  Pastor Pioneers compose sermons that challenge and compel by painting a picture of a preferred future.

Give a Pioneer a colossal goal, three markers, and a whiteboard, and they will generate plans for days.  They are huge fans of collaborative idea generation.  This is especially true for Pioneer-Integrators who love to work with others to solve complex problems at 30,000 feet.  Most of the pastors I know, and I know a great many, are Pioneer-Drivers who are great leaders, or Pioneer-Integrators who are fantastic community builders.  I am a Pioneer-Integrator, starting a new congregation in an emerging community was an excellent fit for me.  Church planting requires an adaptive, risk-taking, spontaneous, adventurous, imaginative person.  I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

Pioneer Shadows

For all their energy, creativity, and charisma, Pioneers do present challenges to the people around them.  For one, they tend to think while they talk.  God forbid that anyone pause in the middle of a conversation for a Pioneer will fill the silence.  They are contemptible sentence finishers, especially when the sentence belongs to someone else.  They tend to get distracted by their own ideas and are often late for meetings.  Most of all they take risks, not because there is a rational reason to do so; they take risks because it feels good.

It is this last point, and their aversion to detail, causes Pioneers and Guardians to often clash. While the ranks of the clergy are filled with Pioneers, it is equally valid that the rolls of lay leadership in most congregations are filled with detailed orientated Guardian protectors. Herein is the heart of most clergy-laity conflicts.  Guardians are wired to secure assets, preserve the past, ensure good order and logical assumptions are at the foundation of all decisions.  Pioneers push forward, innovate, disrupt, and bring about massive amounts of change.  Guardians want details, plans, and time-tested choices all mapped out on spreadsheets embedded with pivot tables.  Predictably so, Pioneers resist any and all forms of rigidity and detest details.  The minute anyone comes to a meeting with an agenda and spreadsheet the Pioneer will be praying for Scotty to beam him up.

I understand this. In fact, I have lived it.  The fast and free style of the Pioneer can make it difficult for their dreams and vision to be operationalized.   To Guardians, Pioneers can seem chaotic, clueless, and erratic.

Working Together

The power of Business Chemistry ® is that it is not only actionable and memorable but seeks to leverage diverse perspectives for greater growth and effectiveness.  The easiest way for a Pioneer to be successful in the faith-based nonprofit world is to flex their style.  For me, that meant leveraging my Integrator tendencies to include competent people in the execution of the vision.  In other words, cast the vision, find qualified people and stay out of their way.

If you are a Pioneer, you will be well served by:

  • Learning and leveraging the strengths of those around you.
  • Understand that you need people, not just good ideas.
  • Pause and be sensitive to what others around you are thinking and feeling.
  • Find ways to make the new seem old.Ground your creative thinking in core values.
  • Stick with it and don’t walk away too soon.

Those working with Pioneers would be well served by:

  • Avoid saying “No.”It is a waste of time; true Pioneers don’t understand this word.
  • Help Pioneers fill in the details toward executing their vision.
  • Be patient and open to new ideas and possibilities. They can bring positive change.
  • Help Pioneers understand how risk can be mitigated. Trial size ideas!
  • Stick with them and don’t close the door too early.

The church and the nonprofit world needs Pioneers.   They bring new angles of vision, creative ideas, and boundless energy.   And, God seems to be calling a great many of them into Kingdom work.  So, let them serve, speak, and lead and perhaps they will take you to where no one has gone before.


David Lee Davis, D.Min, CFRE  is the Executive Director of the Intentional Growth Center. David holds degrees from Princeton Seminary, Emory University, and Houghton Wesleyan College.