“Adapt and Overcome” isn’t just another nice-sounding motivational slogan for Dan McConchie – it’s a personal motto that has accompanied him from the depths of a near-death experience to the heights of the government mountain.
In November, the Pinnacle Forum Partner was elected to the Illinois State Senate, after winning a hard-fought primary and being appointed to the legislature last spring.
For Dan, faith, family and his friends in Pinnacle Forum’s Chicago Metro Area Chapter played key roles in his engaging and executing on his passion and calling.
“At my core, my passion is seeing the lost come to Christ,” Dan says. “My chosen field to serve is in the political world.”
In an era when politics and people are more polarized than ever before, he sees this mountain as a field ripe for the harvest.
“There’s a great opportunity to live out and be a witness to my faith in front of a unique crowd,” Dan explains. “My goals are to demonstrate excellence in governing — to acquire and demonstrate a true understanding of the issues and come up with solutions that advance truth while being loving in the process.”
“The biggest challenges,” he continues, “are the intense spiritual warfare, the hardened hearts of those in the system, and the willful blindness of many involved.”
How difficult is it to be a believer in the secular sphere of politics? “Not that hard when you keep yourself firmly on eternal goals and not temporal ones,” Dan says. “If you do that, the drama of the temporal struggle fades and becomes inconsequential.”
Running for office wasn’t part of Dan’s plan until last year, even though he had been interested and involved in government since college.
He had come to Christ at age 16, after being encouraged to learn about the Gospel by his high school math teacher. “I knew within about a year that I wanted to do ministry of some sort, but wasn’t sure what,” he recalls. “I went to Bible College where I was turned onto politics after an internship in D.C.”
Dan went on to work on policy issues for 20 years, including serving as a senior adviser to the Shelby Group applying private sector purchasing practices to government. And he also worked for non-profits across the country as, in his words, “an advocate for the most vulnerable among us at the beginning and end of life” and to help stamp out sex trafficking.
“I never seriously thought I’d run for office,” he continues, “but the door opened (and) I walked through it.”
Not literally, however. In 2007, a hit-and-run accident while riding a motorcycle left Dan with a spinal cord injury that left him needing a wheelchair to get around. That’s when the slogan to “Adapt and Overcome” from his nine years in the Army National Guard took on new meaning, giving him the determination and strength to not only carry on, but to do such things as take up adaptive skiing and other sports, travel extensively, join Pinnacle Forum, and, eventually, run for office.
“A friend knew I was thinking of running for office,” Dan recalls. “She knew a Pinnacle Forum member who had a similar passion for change in government. She introduced us, and he introduced me to Pinnacle Forum.”
In Pinnacle Forum he quickly found an “encouraging network of other leaders who not just gave me moral support, but practical support that helped me win a heavily contested primary and general election. These friends came alongside me with advice, volunteer help and financial support.”
Dan’s pledge to “cut spending, lower taxes and fight corruption” resonated with voters in the November general election. With the victory, Dan will split his time between the state capital in Springfield and the house in the Chicago suburb of Hawthorn Woods that he, wife Milena and two teenaged daughters call home.
Not everyone is called to run for elective office, but Dan offers three bits of advice to those who are:
First, “Get a mentor. It’s not rocket science, but a good mentor can dramatically lessen the learning curve and make your race more productive.”
Second, “Get a small but powerful prayer group to pray for you regularly – one that can be trusted with the most confidential of requests and will storm heaven on your behalf.”
Third, “Remember to leave the results in the hands of God. I told a church group during my primary that I would rather lose my race and have one person come to Christ through it than to win and have someone miss an opportunity to hear and respond to the Gospel. If you have that attitude, you will be successful for Him, regardless of whether you win or lose the race.”
Dan also encourages Pinnacle Forum men and women to support peers who do run for office.
“If you don’t run for office yourself, then make yourself available to believers in your area who are willing to get into the fray in whatever way you can, big or small. Politics is a team sport. Anyone who runs needs several key people to step up and help – people with a myriad of talents and/or resources and will selflessly step up to assist. A campaign takes as much hard work and commitment as a start-up company, but the time frame to get the job done is generally much shorter. And even if you can only offer a small bit of help to a candidate, it is valuable.”
And, he advises Pinnacle Forum people around the country to make the most of Pinnacle Forum’s Four “E” Strategy of Encourage, Equip, Engage, Execute. “It helps you focus,” Dan says, “providing a system to ensure you’re doing everything you can to be productive for the Kingdom.”
That’s solid advice from a man who, true to his motto, adapted and overcame to answer God’s call to use his influence to impact the mountain of government and politics for Christ.