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When I’m traveling on the road, speaking at colleges and universities around the country, I get several questions over and over again, no matter where I am in the country. The one question I might get more than any other goes a little something like this,

“Shaun, I am bothered by injustice, I am bothered by Donald Trump, I am bothered by police brutality, I am bothered by racism and xenophobia, I am bothered by the issues of the world, but I just don’t know what to do about it. Where do I begin?”

I get that question everywhere I go. The fact of the matter is that our country is so messed up right now, that people are overwhelmed to the point that it’s hard to know where to start. Yes, people will march and protest and sign petitions, but we’ve crossed a point where people want to know what exactly do they do after they march and protest and sign petitions.

Well, that’s exactly what I want to help you all out with this morning. And I’m going to start with a quote from Dr. Howard Thurman, one of the most beloved alums of Morehouse College, and a mentor to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Howard Thurman said,

“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

Let me read that one more time.

“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

Before I was doing the justice work that I do today, I was a local pastor in Atlanta for over 10 years and the question I asked people to help them find their purpose and passion in life was very similar to what Dr. Thurman said, but simpler and I want to ask it of you this morning. It’s actually a deeply personal question that must be answered if you are going to go out and make a difference in the world.

What disturbs you most in the world? What issue, what crisis, what problem in our country personally shakes you up and bothers you the most?

See, we often assume that our answer is the same answer as the people around you, but I’ve asked that question to thousands of people across the country, and people assume that what bothers them is what bothers everybody else, but it’s just not true. Your answer to that question is deeply reflective of your own life. It’s as unique as your fingerprint.

See, I am deeply bothered and troubled by police brutality, deep down in my soul, because I was once assaulted as a kid, and abandoned by those in authority who knew full well that they could help me, but chose to do nothing instead. When people in authority abuse their power, it bothers me in a way that I can’t fully explain.

And you need to answer that question for yourself. What bothers you the most? For you, it might be child literacy or failing schools, it might be income inequality, it might be seeing immigrants or Muslims discriminated against, it might be issues related to mental health or homelessness, it might be human trafficking, but the first step to finding out where you begin to make the world a better place starts in finding the one issue that breaks your heart.

And this morning, I want to ask you to become a specialist. The world has enough generalists, who care a little bit here and there about a whole lot of stuff, but the world we’re living in right now needs you to put your feet down and decide to actually make some change happen and that begins with you deciding what your primary cause is going to be.

And I’ll close with this thought….

You can always change your mind later, but what I have found is that once you answer the question of what bothers you the most in the world, and then make up in your mind that you will dedicate your life to moving the needle on that problem, it immediately becomes so much easier for you to find the people and organizations and partners that you need to work with to solve that problem.

You don’t have to answer the question today, but soon, answer the question of what bothers you the most in the world, and then commit to being the change you want to see in the world.

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What Bothers You Most In The World?  was originally published on