Dan Herron Shares His Advice For His Younger Self

Dan‌ ‌Herron‌ ‌is‌ currently ‌focused‌ ‌on‌ ‌his‌ ‌work‌ ‌at‌ ‌VisionQuest‌ ‌Labs‌ ‌in‌ ‌Indianapolis,‌ ‌Indiana,‌ ‌a‌ ‌state-of-the-art‌ ‌health,‌ ‌fitness,‌ ‌and‌ ‌performance‌ ‌testing‌ ‌lab,‌ ‌and‌ ‌indoor‌ ‌cycling‌ ‌training‌ ‌center.‌ ‌VisionQuest‌ ‌Labs‌ offers a range of services that range from helping clients better understand their body composition (Dexa Scan) to sweat tests (Precision Hydration) to state-of-the-art metabolic analysis (INSCYD). For cyclists, triathletes and general fitness enthusiasts, ‌VisionQuest‌ ‌Labs‌ also offers fun and engaging indoor cycling classes as well as outdoor rides during the summer.

Before that, Dan Herron was the pastor of ‌Hope‌ ‌Presbyterian‌ ‌Church,‌ a ‌gospel-centered‌ ‌church‌ which he helped to start. Hope Presbyterian serves the ‌Bloomington,‌ ‌Indiana,‌ ‌and‌ ‌Indiana‌ ‌University‌ ‌ communities. 

Dan Herron’s faith was kindled while he was an undergrad at Illinois State University. Shortly after graduation, he married his wife, Erica, who he had been dating since high school. 

He‌ ‌says,‌ ‌“My‌ ‌identity‌ ‌has‌ ‌these‌ ‌themes‌ ‌of‌ ‌personal‌ ‌character‌ ‌threaded‌ ‌throughout:‌ ‌grit,‌ ‌steadfast‌ ‌endurance‌ ‌in‌ ‌the‌ ‌face‌ ‌of‌ ‌great‌ ‌obstacles,‌ ‌awareness‌ ‌of‌ ‌my‌ ‌weaknesses‌ ‌and‌ ‌mistakes,‌ ‌and‌ ‌movement‌ ‌forward‌ ‌to‌ ‌an‌ ‌expansive‌ ‌and‌ ‌successful‌ ‌leadership‌ ‌vision.”‌ ‌

We recently were able to connect with Dan Herron and learn a little more about his personal philosophy, some things he would do differently if he were to start over again, and the advice he’d give his younger self. 

If you were to start again, what would you do differently? 

I am grateful for where I am in life. I am grateful for what I believe God has done in and through my life, especially as I see the positive impact of my life on many others. The path that I have been on has been used by God to produce this. 

So, it is difficult for me to say that I would do things differently because I’d never wish for a different outcome than where I am right now. There are things I would have liked to have done, but only if it would have led me to the same wife, kids, friends, faith in God and character of mine that has been shaped throughout the years. 

Here are a handful of things I would have done differently:

1) On September 11, 2001, I was a high school teacher. I remember the attacks on the twin towers as I watched them with my students. After school was out for the day, I walked in a forest and journaled my prayers. I left for home that day with a desire to enlist in the Army and pursue a role as a Ranger. I was determined to join in the defense of our country. I got home and shared the news with Erica. Her response was, “No you’re not! We just got married! You can find another way to fight against the evil in this world…” She had a good point there. We’d been married one year, just moved to a new city, and were beginning our life together. I needed to be present with her. Yet, I’ve always wanted to have had the opportunity to serve in an elite area of the armed forces. At the same time, it was this drive to engage in a larger conflict against destructive forces that led me into the ministry and eventually to the opportunity to care for hundreds of people over the years.

2) If I could go back, I would have paid more attention to long-term finances. As young people entering ministry, Erica and I had the naïve thought that we could just “go for it.” We weren’t concerned about finances, and left our long-term options “to God.” Well, God works through wisdom as well as through miracles. As a result, we missed opportunities to save, invest, and make sure that we were cared for financially in the career choices we made for me. We were not totally foolish, nor did we completely neglect opportunities, but we were so caught up in being “heavenly minded” that we did not take enough wise consideration into our earthly needs. This included the future needs of our family and children. Yet, God has provided and been very good to us. So, one of the things I’ve always encouraged young couples to do is begin investing and saving very early in life, always looking to the future.

3) I would have been more committed to academics in high school. I also would have sought to learn to swim and master this discipline at that time. I always had high potential academically, but throughout high school I failed to succeed because I never had the discipline to study nor did I develop the intrinsic desire to pursue success. I also would have liked to have participated in a high school sport, particularly swimming. I’ve grown to be athletic over the years—competing in bike races, triathlons, and even Ironman. But, to have developed the discipline, drive, and desire at a younger age would have been an incredible thing to experience and would have provided many more options for me.

When you were starting out, was there ever a time you doubted it would work? If so, how did you handle that? 

I never doubted that our mission would be accomplished.

However, there were plenty of times I struggled with challenges, was in pain because of various afflictions, or was tempted to move on too soon.

Throughout the process of starting Hope Church several different opportunities to move on to more prominent churches came to me. As someone who is drawn to leadership, influence, and larger platforms for communication and opportunity, it was very difficult to turn down these opportunities. With the help of others, I was convinced that Erica and I were not permitted to depart Bloomington until Hope Church had established and ordained leaders (elders), a trajectory toward financial health, and a strong pastoral successor identified. 

This took 8 years of effort, prayer, and waiting. While I never doubted that the work would be accomplished, I did struggle with the endurance necessary to continue moving forward. This was especially the case as I saw others moving on to new jobs, cities, and opportunities. 

I’ve come to see how important the qualities of steadfast endurance and fortitude are in a leader. From my observations of our present culture, it seems that this quality of fortitude is sorely lacking in appreciation and emphasis. This particular quality is not something that I have been particularly natural at practicing. I barely graduated high school, but, for some reason this particular quality is one of the most prominent characteristics that has been shaped within me over the years. I believe that this has been the work of God to take a weak and insecure kid, and shape him into a man who does not quit. There’s no other explanation. 

This quality has been vital in planting Hope Church over the course of 8 years of challenges. 

My growing involvement in endurance athletics has been an incredible training and testing ground for this quality of fortitude. This endurance athletic experience includes competitive cycling, running, triathlon (Ironman and sprints), and now a relay swim across Lake Michigan at the end of this July. 

What advice would you give your younger self?

There are a few things I would tell my younger self:

  • Talk less, smile more.
  • Exercise greater wariness on who to trust and open up in vulnerability.
  • Start investing and saving money earlier. 
  • Develop better boundaries around work, focus more time and energy on my kids.
  • Invest more time in prayer and contemplation.
  • Do not allow conflict to go unaddressed, even if directed to by other leaders.
  • Get rooted in a place more quickly.
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