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Challenge: The Spiritual Danger of Doing Good
September 1, 2013
Many of us engage in doing God's work on earth through Christian acts. We find satisfaction, pride and self-worth in doing good for others in God's name. Success can be a trap, however. The Spiritual Danger of Doing Good explains the dangers and what happens when Christian service and good works lead to burnout, pride, or sin. It also advises readers on changing course.
Peter Greer gives a candid account of how this can happen, using his experiences as CEO of HOPE International, a large Christian nonprofit that serves those in need by helping them help themselves. Greer uses stories from his own life and others in ministry to help readers protect themselves from disillusionment, vanity, and other dangers. He uses a wide variety of examples and situations as teaching tools with which readers can identify. If the reader fails to recognize himself in one chapter's situation, he is sure to come face to face with himself in another.
This book serves as a compassionate warning to everyone who works in ministry or charitable nonprofits, from CEOs to weekend volunteers. It is easy to become obsessed with results, success, growth and progress in our ministries. Greer advises using God's measuring stick, rather than our own. Readers should be ready for some challenging and uncomfortable admissions of guilt and should pay attention to Greer's advice on repenting and working with love, for the glory of God.
The Spiritual Danger of Doing Good includes end-of-chapter questions for personal reflection or group discussion as well as Scriptural and Internet references and pictures.
I was given a free copy of this book by Bethany House Publishers for the purpose of review. This book is highly recommended for all who work in any Christian ministry and who seek to make their lives Christ-centered.
As the President and CEO of HOPE International, Peter Greer knows a lot about "doing good". But in his book, The Spiritual Danger of Doing Good (co-written with Anna Haggard), Greer talks about about the darker side of helping others. He is unflatteringly honest, sharing how his marriage was failing as he was busy leading an international Christian nonprofit.
Each chapter is about a different spiritual danger. He writes about the danger of giving your family leftovers while working overtime in ministry. Another chapter focuses on the importance of deep friendships and deliberately choosing friends to hold you accountable. Later he writes about the danger of trying to please everyone around you. Overall, Greer touches on many different dangers to be aware of while serving.
Greer included many anecdotes from his own life (including the time he was dragged by a gorilla!), but also from the lives of friends. At the end of each chapter, he provides reflection questions that would be especially helpful to someone currently serving in a ministry.
This book would be good for leaders and lay people alike. Personally, I didn't find it thrilling or find much new information. It seemed like a lot of practical, good advice. It certainly could be a reminder and a "check-up" on your heart and motives for serving, however, in my opinion, it isn't a "must read".
**I was given a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
No one tells you when you're signing up for nursery duty or applying to be a missionary or answering a call to pastoral ministry that it might be spiritually dangerous.
But as Peter Greer writes in his new book The Spiritual Danger of Doing Good, Christian service, whether paid or volunteer, ought to come with a warning label. (Disclaimer: I received a free advanced reading copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.)
"While charity can harm others, doing good can also wreak havoc on us. _ Without evaluating our motives, it is possible to love our service more than we love our Savior."
Greer is the CEO of HOPE International, a nonprofit that focuses on microfinance as a means to end physical and spiritual poverty. His book is full of personal experiences of doing good for the wrong reasons with the wrong motive and paints an honest picture of what can happen in a person's life, family and ministry when service takes precedence over everything else.
The book is funny and a little bit self-deprecating. Greer gives readers no reason to think he's got it all together or is a saint when it comes to serving for the right reasons. Even as the CEO of a nonprofit, he's still a human. He includes stories of others who have experienced personal failure while their ministry was thriving. It's a fascinating and quick read, though by no means is it an "easy" read.
The Spiritual Danger of Doing Good is a warning as well as an encouragement to check your ego, your motives, and your personal relationships often in the midst of whatever job or ministry God calls you to. I wish this book had been published five years ago, before my husband went to seminary. And I'd recommend it to anyone who serves in the local church, as a longtime volunteer or full-time paid staff.
Greer's message is that important.
Practical, applicable, relevant, The Spiritual Danger of Doing Good is not to be missed. And each chapter concludes with a link to bonus material on Greer's Web site in the form of photos and videos. I look forward to viewing these "extras."
For more about Greer, visit his Website www.peterkgreer.com.
The Spiritual Danger of Doing Good by Peter Greer is a discussion of vulnerability and burnout in acts of service.
Do-gooders sacrifice their time, energy and sometimes even their money in helping others. Doing this again and again without break, thanks or respite can break even the hardiest of souls.
Even with the best of intentions, these Samaritans can find themselves in a heap of trouble- safety wise, financially and even spiritually, as a result of helping their fellow man.
In this book, Greer offers solutions and personal experiences about this issue.
This book is clear and concise with a strong Biblical basis. Although the book is geared toward Christian leaders, I think the average once in a blue moon volunteer could also benefit from the lessons contained within its pages.
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I was not compensated in any other way.
I received an advanced reader copy of The Spiritual Danger of Doing Good, thinking it would be similar to When Helping Hurts because Greer is the leader of a microfinance charity. So I was surprised that the danger Greer is speaking of is internal danger to the giver. This book should be required reading for every minister, every person in church and charity leadership and every nonprofit junkie. The chapters are short and each covers a specific danger that comes from doing too much without paying attention to your life. Greer's honesty is disarming and allows you to identify with him without embarrassment. One word of caution: Read it only for yourself first, not for "all the people you know who should read this book."