7 Things Next Generation Leaders Want From Senior Leaders

jakedudleyLast month I had the privilege of meeting Jake Dudley … he’s a smart, passionate and caring young leader that you need to get to know. He’s a part of The Rocket Company team, interns at a thriving Atlanta area church and helps lead a leadership organization helping emerging leaders called The Hive. (Plus on top of all that he’s a lot of fun!) I’ve asked Jake to reflect on how senior leaders can work with emerging leaders within your church. I’m thankful for Jake and his insights!

Up until about 2 months ago, I had become a professional intern. With 4 separate internships under my belt, I’ve learned a thing or two about what high-level leaders need to know about us young, passionate guys on a mission to “save the world.”

So if you’re a leader and you’ve got a few girls or guys coming under your leadership and you hope they come out a little better on the other side, here are few things you need to know.

  • Tell me you believe in me. This seems so basic but so many leaders miss it. Yes, we know the internship or the job or the opportunity or the gig is a big deal and that we wouldn’t have gotten it if you didn’t believe in us – but hearing it after a successful task (or even a missed opportunity) will remind us that we have your support.
  • Be available. Please don’t tell me you hope to get coffee with me to hear about what I’m learning or what my goals are and then not make time for me on your schedule. If your “investment” into me looks more like an escape route to menial tasks you’d rather not deal with, then you are missing the point of leadership development and discipleship.
  • Give me real opportunity. Let me lead a campaign, preach on a busy Sunday, champion an event or promote an initiative. And when you let me do it, don’t micro-manage all the details. Trust me to do the job whether it works or not. Which leads me to my next point:
  • Let me fail. That campaign I led? The sermon I preached? The event I was in charge of? If I failed (and I will eventually), help me figure out what I can do to be better next time. Just because it wasn’t perfect, doesn’t mean it was useless.
  • We aren’t all stereotypes. Please don’t make assumptions about me because of what other young leaders do. Just because they sleep in until 11 doesn’t mean I will. Just because they have certain tendencies, doesn’t mean I do. Give me the opportunity to show you who I am before you put me into the box of society’s stereotypes.
  • Ask me hard questions. But don’t just ask – care. Ask me about my budget and then show me how to make it better. Ask me about my relationship and how you can pray for it. Ask me if I’m accountable to my schedule and if I’m making good choices. You may think I don’t want it, but I need you to ask and I want to know you care.
  • Do life with me. I need to witness how you interact with your family, your friends and other leaders. Watching you lead your family or laughing over a football game will be far more beneficial for me than you handing me a book and telling to write a 5 point summary.

Just remember, you were just like us at one point in your life. What made you successful and worked for you may not be the answer for us. Work with us and ask us what we need and how we learn.

We’ve had plenty of folks tell us we are going far, now we need you to help us get there.


  1. Good stuff!
    I’m at this weird point in my career where my perspective is shifting. I’ve always been the guy sharing the perspective of the writer. Now, even though I have a senior leader, I more and more am realizing that the people I have working on my team need me to embody these traits.

    1. Love Brian!

      So glad that this article is gaining traction across the internet! Jake is an amazing young leader!


  2. Stunned, actually.

    1) “Humble yourself under the mighty hand of God and in the proper time He will exalt you.” It’s nice to be encouraged and recognized by someone, but don’t even think about it. Our service is not about “us”, it’s about “them” and altogether “Him”.
    2) “Menial tasks” are the building blocks of leadership ie, servanthood in the kingdom..washing other people’s feet, sitting in the fields by yourself protecting the sheep from the lion and the bear….no one in sight for weeks, serving in prison with baker and the cup bearer, making tents so you can afford to spend all that time in prison and in shipwrecks.
    3) “Real opportunity.” See above…and I’m suggesting bring the leader a cup of coffee…follow them around, watch how they treat and interact with others. Talk about an opportunity!
    4) God will exalt you in the proper time…wisdom comes with age. And if you don’t have it, your “failure” to teach the gospel of grace could mean the undoing of someone’s heart. Trust is earned.
    5) Change their “stereotype” with servanthood.
    6) “Do unto others as you would have done into you.” If you want prayer…pray for someone, if you want attention, give someone else unselfish attention, if you want people to care for you, go care for people…unselfishly. “Give, and t will be given to you, pressed down, poured out in good measure into your lap, it will run over.”
    7) Yes, that’s great, but leaders need unfettered time with their families when they aren’t “ministering” to others. Constant giving is exhausting…note that Jesus often went off by himself to refresh himself alone.

    So the long and short….if you make your life about you…you’ll get nowhere. If you make it about others…loving others, without expectation, without accolades, you will go from the prison, where no one has seen you at all, to the palace. But just know, it could take 20 years like Joseph, or 17 like David…or until you’re at least 30, like Jesus. It’s good to look at the forefathers….and God, Himself.
    I’m 51….I’ve been in the ministry….I know. I’ve cleaned a lot of toilets at the church in my time, washed the floors in my pastor’s house, took care of their children…I could go on. God is exalting me in my proper time. He does that when we’re ready. Trust Him.

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Rich Birch
Rich Birch is one of the early multi-site church pioneers in North America. He led the charge in helping The Meeting House in Toronto to become the leading multi-site church in Canada with over 5,000+ people in 18 locations. In addition, he served on the leadership team of Connexus Church in Ontario, a North Point Community Church Strategic Partner. He has also been a part of the lead team at Liquid Church - a 5 location multisite church serving the Manhattan facing suburbs of New Jersey. Liquid is known for it’s innovative approach to outreach and community impact. Rich is passionate about helping churches reach more people, more quickly through excellent execution.His latest book Church Growth Flywheel: 5 Practical Systems to Drive Growth at Your Church is an Amazon bestseller and is design to help your church reach more people in your community.