(Guest Blogger: Brad Lomenick – Director of Catalyst) Where Have All the Interns Gone?
You can’t be president until you are 35. You can’t run a company until you are 40. You can’t be a Senior Pastor of a large church until you are at least 45…. You may have talent, but you have to wait your turn…. You have to earn the right to lead.
Agree or disagree?
Like it or not, it’s a whole new reality when it comes to who is leading who. The entire landscape of leadership has changed in the last 15 years, and continues to do so at a fast pace. The X generation is quickly being replaced by the Y generation as the growing force within the Church and our culture. And the P Generation (producer) is right on their heels. They WILL NOT wait to make a difference. They’ve grown up with the understanding that I can make a difference now- just write a blog, send a facebook message, create an online community, and boom- you have an audience and a tribe. So it’s time you wake up and face the realities of the next generation of leaders. Hierarchy is out; flat organizational structure is in. Wait your turn is out; make a difference NOW is in. Larger than life personalities are out; collaboration is in.
All those young college graduates and 20 somethings that used to show up at your doorstep begging for a chance to be an intern on your staff are harder to find these days. But they haven’t just vanished, and there is not a tremendous derth of new fresh leaders rising up ready to lead. All the young talent is still out there, but just not necessarily showing up at your doorstep, waiting in line to be the next version of you. Where have they all gone?
The simple answer- somewhere where they can make a difference and LEAD now.
Take for instance Teach For America, a non-profit organization started by Wendy Kopp that places recent college graduates as teachers into poor performing schools across America, many of them inner-city schools. These are not your bottom of the barrel graduates from Nowhere State U. These are Harvard, Princeton, and MIT grads. And they are lining up in droves to go and make a difference in the lives of at-risk students, all for less money, less fame, but greater impact.
Or the example of Prison Entrepreneurship Program. An amazing organization that seeks to provide a bridge for inmates who are released back into society. Inmates are trained while in prison on business skills, contests are held for who can write the best business plan, and the recidivism rate for those in the program is lower than 5%. The founder, Catherine Rohr, was once a private equity executive on Wall Street, and now spends her time, along with hundreds of volunteers and paid staff, in the middle of prisons hanging with inmates making a difference in their lives and creating a better society.
You also might have noticed an unbelievable amount of new Church Plants happening. Most of these current Planters are 20 somethings. Many are leaving well-established and large megachurches to go and start something new. Why? Because the Y generation is not willing to wait. They want to make an impact now, and this entrepreneurial trend will continue to grow.
So what to do? Well, the first step is to understand the reality of the next generation of leaders. You have them on your staff, and if you don’t know it yet, they are probably considering planting their own church or going somewhere else where they can lead NOW. If you want to keep them, give them space to run, and allow them to create and innovate within the system you’ve created. Second, it might be time for some aggressive recruiting. Be as passionate about finding the right talent as you are about reaching your community.
Interns, young leaders, and talent is all around us. It’s just not showing up on our doorsteps anymore.
Brad Lominick is the Executive Director of the Catalyst Conference, Catalyst West Coast and Catalyst One Day’s. You can follow him on Twitter here and friend him on Facebook here. Check out his leadership blog here. This article first appeared in Rev! Magazine.