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Conversation With Dan Herron – A Spiritual Startup Journey

in Entrepreneurship
Conversation With Dan Herron

We often think about entrepreneurship in capitalistic terms, admiring flashy initial public offerings and the annual release of Forbes list of billionaires. We marvel at the success of Silicon Valley startups and their founders and follow influencers as they highlight miracle cures and marvelous products.

But entrepreneurs also can take a different path, toward charity and philanthropy, toward building a community and trying to make a difference for others.

It is this higher calling that is too rarely recognized as innovative and entrepreneurial but has the potential to positively impact an infinite number of people.

Dan Herron is formerly the pastor of Hope Presbyterian Church in Bloomington, Indiana.

We recently learned about Dan Herron’s entrepreneurial journey.

In Dan’s words:

“The primary thing that inspired me is the idea that God is on a mission, so we must join him. Many corporations and individuals have “mission statements”—statements that summarize the active focus of the organization. T

hese statements generally flow from “purpose/vision statements”—statements that summarize why an organization exists: “We exist to…, and we seek to achieve this through becoming/going/acting….”

The inspiration that started me in ministry was coming to see that God himself has a purpose and a mission. God’s purpose is to bring glory to himself in all things, and he seeks to accomplish this in this world through bringing redemption and renewal of his entire creation through restoring the people he loves whom he shaped in his own image and empowering us to bring flourishing to the people and world around us.”

“As the Apostle Paul writes: “We are his poiema (his masterpiece) created for good works….” As I began to see that my own raison d’etre cannot possibly be centered on myself (that’s a pretty limited life purpose) but centered on God, I came to see his purpose and mission as the very thing my own life ought to be inspired by and focused on. This got me started in ministry, has been the focus that has sustained us through nearly ten years of startup work in a very challenging context, and is still the purpose and mission of our lives even as I transition out of ministry in order to focus my vocational efforts in a new context. My role may be changing, but my purpose and mission remain the same.”

“There are several other things that inspired me as well:

  1. I love to build things. My entire life, I’ve been thinking about and actively working to build things—Legos, plastic models, houses, friendships, groups, curriculum, plans, organizations.
  2. I love to servant-lead. What this means is that over the years, I have learned to see that the primary role of a leader is to get behind and under the people, they lead in order to encourage, support, resource, and coach. It is through this servant posture that a leader really develops the trust and models the love that permits them to “leads from the front.” I have come to love this sort of leadership as I see the people I have mentored, taught, guided, counseled make their own impacts within the contexts they are called to serve.
  3. I love public communication. I grew up acting in school plays, being in show choir, taking active parts in-class discussion and debate. I have always enjoyed and have had a knack for public communication. So part of my inspiration to move toward ministry was the opportunity to develop in this gift and exercise this gift in a way that could really benefit others.
  4. I love starting stuff. If you glance at my resume, you’ll notice a bunch of stuff on there that I’ve helped to start: small groups, mission teams, partnerships, programs, organizations, fundraisers, conferences, teams, and a church.
  5. I love learning—study, writing, thinking things through, growing. I was inspired to move toward this path because it required consistent commitment to learning and growth.
  6. I love helping people

All of these areas of inspiration don’t necessarily equate to serving in church ministry, but this path was a good fit.”

“Other areas of inspiration:

  1. Honestly, I’ve been inspired by historical figures, movies, and stories about courage, passion, self-sacrifice, love, honor, community, and the struggle for the good in the face of darkness. Here are some: Lord of the Rings, Chronicles of Narnia, Braveheart, The Last of the Mohicans, Glory, Chariots of Fire, Miracle, Band of Brothers, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill, Jim Elliott
  2. I was inspired by Christian servants and authors: Augustine, John Calvin, Francis Schaeffer, Jerram Barrs, John Stott, and the biggest influence of all of these has been Tim Keller, pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in NY. I have poured through his books, sermons, and lectures and have sought to shape my own approach to reasoned and creative communication of the Christian faith by his example, yet still seeking to retain my own unique style and personality.”

“Probably the biggest inspiration in my life has been my wife, Erica.

She is a truly lovely person. We met when she was 14, and I was 16. I remember her walking out onto the diving board during a meet I was attending. And, when I saw her perfect posture and the way she held her hands as she concentrated before launching from the diving board, I was smitten and had to meet her. We have been dating since 1992.”

“When we were younger, she was the good girl, the rules girl who graduated valedictorian, academic scholarship to the University of Illinois, top 5% graduate as an undergrad, disciplined, structured, goals oriented, beautiful, and kind. I was the popular kid who focused on socializing above all else. I was an actor, a singer, a lover of history, and a dreamer. I barely graduated high school with a D- average. After high school, I was working days at a pizza restaurant and failing night classes at the local community college. There were many other things that God used to influence me at that time, but Erica was the most significant. Her hard work, intelligence, success, and confidence in me when I had none were pivotal in seeing my academic and personal life turn completely around. She taught me how to have goals, how to have self-discipline, how to have and pursue goals, and how to love in a self-sacrificial way.”

“Our first date was on November 28, 1992. I proposed to her on November 28, 1998. And, we were married a week after we graduated undergrad on May 20, 2000. God has woven us into an incredible team, and she has never wavered in her faithful leadership and strong support in my life. We’ve suffered through much together—almost losing our first child at his birth, ministry burnout, the challenges of graduate school for me while she was finishing her own doctorate, raising three kids, planting a church with only one other couple, diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer while planting, and challenging current circumstances that has pointed us into a new life direction.”