The Difference between a Visionary and a Dreamer

Churches are notorious for talking about vision at the start of the New Year. In fact, many churches actually come up with a new “Vision Theme” every year that they role out to the church in January. There’s getting ready to be a lot of “vision talk” in churches across America in the next couple of weeks. The problem is there is a lot of confusion in the church about what vision and being a visionary actually is.

Often churches confuse being a good communicator with being a visionary. Just because you can get people to buy into you or your idea doesn’t make you’re a visionary. Other times vision comes packaged as a compelling idea. Just because you have an idea doesn’t mean you’re a visionary.

What I’ve discovered is that most churches are chasing a dream, not following a vision. Here’s the difference:


Dreamer: Dreams are fun, fantastical, and free. It doesn’t cost anything to dream dreams.
Visionary: Visionaries are willing to pay the price to see their vision become reality.


Dreamer: Dreamers are full of ideas, bouncing from one dream to the next.
Visionary: Visionaries have a determined laser focus on the vision.


Dreamer: “Someday” and “eventually” are common language for the dreamer.
Visionary: Visionaries build action plans with real deadlines that get them to the vision.


Dreamer: A combination of chasing ideas with a short attention span rarely leads to a great impact.
Visionary: Focused attention that moves you towards a specific vision coupled with a willingness to pay the price can lead to tremendous impact.

What are some other differences between dreamers and visionaries that you’ve observed? I’d love to hear your thoughts, leave a comment!

Posted in Leadership

4 Responses to “The Difference between a Visionary and a Dreamer”

  1. Steve Cooper January 4, 2016 at 2:43 pm #

    Speaking from experience, it can be hard to jump from the Dreamer track to become a visionary. Old habits die hard, but having a new habit to replace the old one does make it easier. Your tips fit into forming a structure for new habits. Thanks for them. Also, you mentioned communicating “vision” to others. Leadership demands that vision development include the entire team so that everyone has a buy-in and is ready to communicate with the stakeholders in a timely fashion and a coordinated effort. Change is fun isn’t it?

  2. Oliver January 5, 2016 at 2:19 am #

    Hey Paul, I also realized visionaries have a habit of questioning and examining and reexamining their visions. Dreamers tend to see only the good side of the dream.

  3. Darrell January 13, 2016 at 1:55 pm #

    Thanks, Paul, this is something I needed to hear. Appreciate the good word.
    I blog for small church & bivocational pastors… would love to collaborate with you on an ebook I’m working on. If you’re interested, it’s a small project, small commitment. Let me know via email. Thanks, Darrell

    • Paul Alexander January 13, 2016 at 5:39 pm #

      Happy to connect and talk about it Darrell. Drop me an email through the contact form on my blog.

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