A MESSAGE TO OUR iY GRADUATES Article by Abidan Paul Shah

(Published in the newspaper Daily Dispatch, Henderson on May 28, 2016) 

Ecclesiastes 1:4 “One generation passes away, and another generation comes; But the earth abides forever.”

amessagetoiyMany of you are wondering – “Who are the iYs?” They are the younger group of Generation Y or the Millennials, born between 1991-2001. Unlike the older Ys, the iYs have a very different mindset. We cannot afford to ignore or be ignorant about them any longer because they will soon be the largest demographic in the US. In fact, about half the world’s population will be 25 years old or younger, which social scientists are calling the “youth bulge.” They warn that any time there is a surge in youth population, there will also be a rise in violence. The rise in group violence in America and across the globe in recent years is proof that it has already begun! What can we do? To start with, we need to understand what made them the way they are.

Think about the major events of the past two decades – coming of the Internet in the mid 90s; terrorism at home with the Oklahoma City Bombing in 1995 and then September 11, 2001; school shootings starting with the Columbine massacre in 1999; biggest financial crisis in 2007 since the Great Depression; the rise of extreme religious violence in the world, especially with ISIS recently; the coming of smart phones, text messaging, and social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, etc.). As much as all these events have made a significant impact on the iYs, the main impact was much closer. We are the main impact! Tim Elmore explains this in his book “Generation iY: Secrets to Connecting with Today’s Teens and Young Adults in the Digital Age” (2015 edition). He uses 4 words to describe the iYs. I’ll summarize it here:

  1. An Overwhelmed Generation: We’ve made decisions for them all their lives and now they’re facing the world on their own. We’ve expected
    Tim Elmore - Generation iY

    Click on the image for book by Tim Elmore – “Generation iY: Secrets to Connecting with Today’s Teens and Young Adults in the Digital Age” (2015 edition).

    the best from them constantly and now they’re too stressed to perform. 94% of students reported feeling overwhelmed by their lifestyles; 44% said they felt so depressed it was almost difficult to function; almost 10% had considered suicide in the past. This is why they try to escape reality by turning to online fantasy.

  2. An Overconnected Generation: We gave them technology too early, too much, and without accountability. They don’t need us anymore. They have Google and Wikipedia. They’re connected 24/7 with their peers online who are more important than real people across the room. Most of their connections are shallow but who cares. They simply go around repeating what others say, nothing new or unique.
  3. An Overprotected Generation: We have saddled them with safety seats, safety belts, and safety helmets. We’ve told them – “Don’t go anywhere. It’s not safe.” Is it any wonder that they don’t want to take any risks? Now many are also struggling with obesity and other health issues.
  4. An Overserved Generation: We’ve told them repeatedly – “You are special and everyone is a winner.” Guess what?! They actually believed us! According to a lag-time study at San Diego State University between 1975 and 2006, there has been a big climb in narcissistic tendencies among American students. A growing number now actually have Narcissistic Personality Disorder! Every day I come across employers who are frustrated because anytime it gets a little tough, they’re gone!

To all iYs – If you want to be the trendsetters among your peers, you will have to be different. In other words, “Be an iY by age but not by attitude.” Learn to be patient not instant. Communicate with people face-to-face. Remember, you have to earn it. You are not entitled to it. Listen to adults and not just to your peers. Don’t listen to adults who have ulterior motives. Be slow to tear down old boundaries. Learn to take risks. Technology is no substitute to expertise. It’s not all about you. You’re not always right. Make Christ your Savior. Pray and read God’s Word daily.

To all of us – It’s not enough to expect just the iYs to change; we have to do some changing as well. Begin by taking responsibility for where they are. Don’t condemn constantly. Embrace them. Give them adult responsibility. Reward real skills and remind them that not everyone wins. Invest time in them by teaching life skills like budgeting, cooking, planting, and maintaining. Give them hope for the future. Pray for them. Make Christ your Savior. Remember 1 Corinthians 11:1 “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.”


LESSONS FROM RANDY by Pastor Shah (Clearview Baptist Church)

(This article was featured in the newspaper The Daily Dispatch on Saturday, June 14, 2014)

There’s nothing good about a phone call in the middle of the night. Still half-asleep, I could hear my wife – “Who??? Oh no! What happened?” Randy Reagle surfingAfter a long pause her tone changed from shock to condolence – “I’m so sorry. He’ll be right over. We will be in prayer.” I thought I heard the name – Randy – but still unsure, I asked, “Who is it?” She confirmed, “Randy Reagle just died in a car accident.” I couldn’t believe it! We just spent Sunday afternoon with him and his family at the lake. How could this be? I asked the same question that his family and friends have asked – “Why would God allow a 23-year-old with so much potential to be taken away?”

In the past few days, God has proven again and again that even though He is not the source of pain, He is always working “all things together for good.” Instead of brooding over the wreck on NC 39, the He has been bringing to mind Randy’s spiritual walk. Although I knew him less than a year, I witnessed a life that had real struggles but with a real faith in God. After much prayer, I asked permission from his father if I could share a few lessons from Randy’s life and he graciously agreed.

Randy with Shane1. Randy reminded me that first impressions could be deceiving: I have to admit that the first time I met Randy I thought that he was cocky but something told me to look below the surface. One day I invited him over to my office, expecting to make small talk and Randy shared with me about his brother Shane who had died a couple of years ago and how he struggled with his death. What I perceived as arrogance was actually a wound that hadn’t healed. We are so quick to pass judgments on others, especially our youth. We’ll never know the struggles they are going through until we take the time to get to know them.

2. Randy inspired me with his bold faith for Christ: It was a joy to watch Randy worship. I’ll always remember the last Sunday he was in church. No sooner had the Praise Team begun singing “Glory to God Forever” that he was on his feet, hand raised, worshipping God, no regard for what anyone would think. A few months earlier we went to a men’s conference, where we had to sit on the stage due to lack of space. I was hoping to stay incognito but not Randy. There he was praising God; and when the speaker gave an invitation to rededicate, Randy was the first one off the stage and on his knees in prayer. It showed me that this generation might not worship as I do but it is real and bold, nonetheless.

Randy63. Randy taught me that you don’t have to stop having fun in order to be serious about God: Like any 23-year old, Randy loved his X-box, favorite TV shows, and water sports. He often joked that all his life’s possession was in his wakeboard. But, there was another side to him. His family would often find him by the boat dock reading his Bible for hours. He was especially fond of reading books on how to reach the next generation with the gospel – “God without Religion,” “Red Letter Religion,” “Mere Christianity” by C.S. Lewis, “God’s Not Dead,” “7 Men and the Secret of Their Greatness” and – oh yes – “Happy Happy Happy” by Phil Robertson. Quite a shock to some of us who think that we are the last great generation that thinks!

Randy24. Randy left me with tremendous hope for the future generation: When I went by the house to plan the memorial service, the family insisted that I see Randy’s room. I was reluctant, not knowing what I would find. As I entered, I smiled to see the bed unmade, typical of Randy. As I glanced across the room, my eyes were drawn to one of our church bulletins pinned to a dry erase board on the wall. It was scribbled all over with notes from a sermon I preached sometime back. But what caught my attention were two words in big block letters – “JESUS SAVES.” In my heart the Holy Spirit whispered, “Randy got it.” This young generation may live on Facebook, dress sloppy, listen to strange music, and have a different work ethic but they do get it, probably better than us.

“For a righteous man may fall seven times and rise again, but the wicked shall fall by calamity.” Proverbs 24:16 (Verse tattooed on Randy’s arm)

Randy5(For more on Randy’s walk with God, visit randyswalk.com.)

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