I think we all value self-improvement. Each year we challenge ourselves to get slimmer, stronger and smarter, and we are bombarded with programs and products that supposedly help us get out of debt, get in shape, and become better people.
Getting out of debt and getting into shape are good goals, but they don’t inspire you to greatness. In fact, when you think about the people you respect and admire the most, chances are they didn’t devote their lives to becoming the best version of themselves. Instead, they devoted their lives to making a difference in the world—or at least in someone’s world—and they brought about real change.
Perhaps the way to become a better person is actually to focus less on yourself and more on what’s going on around you. If you’re wondering how you can make a difference in a world with so many unmet needs, start asking yourself a question:
This question has the potential to shape your perspective and priorities. When you think about everything going on in our nation and in your community, what’s the one unmet need that captures your attention and emotions? Perhaps there’s an issue that comes to mind and you think, Something needs to be done about that. You find yourself getting passionate about it, talking about it with others, and looking around you to see if anyone is doing anything about it.
We have all benefited from people along our paths that have gone outside the realm of self-improvement and asked how they could help meet a need around them.
There is an old Latin proverb that says, “What man is a man who does not leave the world or make the world better?” You may not be able to meet every need or change the whole world, but you can meet somebody’s need or improve a slice of the world.
Think about what it is that breaks your heart. Instead of asking the question “What should I do about me?” try asking the question, “What should be done around me?”
If you really want to become a better person, do something to make the world a better place.
Andy Stanley is a communicator, author, pastor and founder of Atlanta-based North Point Ministries, which includes Gwinnett Church in Sugar Hill and Hamilton Mill Church in Buford, as well as six other churches in metro Atlanta and a global network of nearly 100 partner churches.