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The Spiritual Danger of Doing Good

4.32  ·  Rating details ·  152 ratings  ·  40 reviews
CEO of Large Nonprofit Warns that Charity and Christian Service Can Have a Dark Side
Most Christians today are interested in more than just preaching the gospel with words; they also want to serve others. But what happens when Christian service and social justice lead to burnout, pride, or worse? Peter Greer gives a firsthand account of how this can happen, leaning on his
Hardcover, 189 pages
Published August 1st 2013 by Bethany House Publishers
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Mary Ann Benjamins
Aug 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
“The Spiritual Danger of Doing Good,” by Peter Greer is a readable cautionary tale for those involved in biblical ministry. Greer, armed with many examples of leaders who fell from grace, Greer opens with his own near miss. Greer says, “Ministry took precedence over everything,” right up until the day his wife sat him down and gave it to him straight, “You are choosing your ministry over me—and I feel nothing for you.” With those words ringing in his ears Greer was forced to take a personal inve ...more
Adam Shields
Sep 04, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have spent my whole adult working career in the Christian non-profit world. I have witnessed a number of situations where there has been burnout, mistreatment of staff (in the name of doing good), failure of leadership, leaders ending badly and more.

In a very readable, and story laden book, Greer (and his co-author Anna Haggard) walk through 14 different spiritual dangers that particularly affect those that are trying to do good, especially doing good in Christ's name.

I remember reading an art
Liz Woodman
Jul 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Can doing good have a dark side? The Spiritual Danger of Doing Good offers a refreshing look at why we serve and the need to be aware of our ministry blind spots. Greer's vulnerability in retelling his personal story serves as a compassionate warning to ministry leaders worldwide. A must read for anyone in the business of serving others - I highly recommend it!
B. Ellis
As someone who desires to use my life to do good, the title of Peter Greer’s new book immediately caught my attention as I browsed the shelves at a local bookstore, “The Spiritual Danger of Doing Good.”

Doing good is good. What could be spiritually dangerous about it, I thought? Curiosity made me take the book off the shelf and flip it over to the back. There, I saw the book’s subtitle, “Charity and service have a dark side,” followed by endorsements from three people I know of and respect, Crai
Eric Black
Peter Greer offers a handful of lessons he learned the hard way about the subtle temptations faced by do-gooders. This quick read can serve those in social ministry as a regular check up and accountability measure.
Oct 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Peter Greer has given us a book that is insightful and is an easy read. I appreciate very much that Greer has taken the work of recent authors who have questioned the “good” nature of our good works (Robert D. Lupton, Steve Corbett & Brian Fikkert) and now asked the question: what perils do we as individuals face, spiritually, mentally, and in our interpersonal relationships when we do this work? There needs to be a larger conversation about these issues, and it needs to be an honest one. In ...more
Kerry Lofton
Jan 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I thoroughly enjoyed this book! Peter is so relatable when it comes to talking about things we all struggle with and offers practical and Biblically sound advice! He offered just enough humor, personal stories and short enough chapters to make his point but not bore you. One of the best books I've ever read!
Tim Hoiland
Jul 29, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: faith, development
In recent years, conversations about charity and community service have begun to focus more and more on the ways in which charity can be toxic and helping can hurt. We’ve been reminded that when it comes to international relief and development, good intentions are not enough. These are timely and crucial reminders—timely because there are more nonprofits starting up than ever before, and crucial given the weight of the problems they are aiming to address. Those sparking these conversations (at t ...more
Peter Greer is no stranger to doing good. As president and CEO of HOPE International, he has invested his life in addressing both physical and spiritual poverty through microfinance. However he also knows the shadow side which can accompany good doing. When people give their life in service through activism, missions or ministry, they may end up serving from the wrong center. Some serve to earn salvation. Some give their life to a cause to prove their own worth. The Christian response should be ...more
Jul 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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. …
Callie Glorioso-Mays
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 mi
Mar 17, 2015 rated it really liked it
Read because Marvin Olasky recommended this book a few times last year in World magazine. Once and then again in the 2014 "best of" issue. This is not the book I thought it was. I thought this would deal with the political and social ramifications of the welfare state/mentality and moral and cultural damage done by the social programs in our country. While this wasn't an intellectual dissemination of the above, it was surprising and refreshing...and convicting. This book is about US. Why are we ...more
Sep 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
I received this book as a give away form Goodreads while I was reading something else. I opened it to look at it and read the jacket, and the other book was put aside for the next few days. The Spiritual Danger of Doing Good is an excellent book for both people involved in pastoral work (which I am not) and for the average lay person (which I am). I thought Peter Greer's thesis was very interesting, and his stories and research backed it up very well. At times I found myself feeling a bit of gui ...more
Aug 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I have served as chaplain of music teams, soccer team, honors council, and currently serve as student body president. Needless to say, I am accustomed to being a do-gooder and feeling the pressure of a spotlight on me as a spiritual leader. This book was a refreshing wake up call about the importance of having real relationships with mentors and accountability friends to help me keep my heart pure as I serve in these roles. We are always encouraged to do good but it is important to be aware of w ...more
Annie Kate
Aug 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: gospel
Doing good is good, right? Then why is it that only one in three biblical leaders finished well, without abusing power or harming themselves or others? And the numbers are worse today.

Leader of a Christian microfinance company, Peter Greer wrote this book to help those who serve, especially leaders, see the dangers that come with serving others. He wants to finish well and to help others do so, too.

I recommend this book highly. It helps to show us our sins and weaknesses and thus shows us how de
Chris Chancey
Jul 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I could not put this book down once I got started! The stories are so entertaining and make strong points about the slippery slopes to be avoided in serving others. As a recent seminary graduate, anyone responding to a calling to ministry should make this book an annual read and calibration point. It's challenging and inspirational. Greer & Haggard do an excellent job in clearly articulating such a complex topic. This book is the best gift you could give to any ministry leader that has influ ...more
Isaac Ezell
Jul 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This book, much like Peter's first, is filled with stories of his direct experience as the president of a world class development network, HOPE International. In SDDG he details many of his own shortcomings in a writing style that has the technical clarity of his past writings while integrating the deeply emotional honesty of Bob Goff. This is a book of wisdom; not just knowledge. It is full of stories that illustrate lessons learned and should be read by anyone that is looking to learn how to l ...more
Jul 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This book is a must read for anyone serving in Christian ministry as it helps us to see the many traps all of us fall into along the way. Peter Greer is amazingly honest about his own spiritual journey as he has led a major Christian organization, but I was also touched as I realized how many of these same issues he wrestled with have applied to my own life serving in the local church. The scripture used is also very helpful and encouraging. I wold encourage all those going into ministry and in ...more
Jul 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Through humorous anecdotes, thoughtful reflections, and transparent confessions, Peter and Anna convey the realities that the everyday human faces in his or her own issues with pride. I appreciated the authentic stories, and I learned a lot through the responses that Peter shared. I think everyone has something to glean from this book, if they are open to being challenged and to doing an honest inventory of the state of their heart and soul.
Nov 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The Spiritual Danger of Doing Good is Peter Greer's account of how his best of intentions to serve and help others went awry and how he got back on course. With scriptures and personal anecdotes he provides warnings on potential pitfalls and practical advice on how to avoid them. I would highly recommend this book to anyone involved in ministry, but the reminders would benefit everyone in the working world where the temptation to replace what is best with what is "good" is real.

Aug 01, 2013 rated it liked it
I liked this book ok. Peter Greer is an engaging and honest writer, and I think he covered the gamut of ways that you can get tripped up while doing good spiritual service. I don't think I really read anything new here that I was never aware of before, though. And I would have liked to have seen some more in depth discussion of some of the topics. All in all, a good overview, but a rather light coverage of the topic.
Wendy Railey
Jan 19, 2014 rated it liked it
A complete change in my usual reading style, The Spiritual Danger of Doing Good captivated so many areas that Christians struggle with and forced me to take a different perspective of how I serve God. It prompted me to step back and question my heart and true motives. I really enjoy books that bring out thought and question my character as a person. Fabulous tells of adventure and mishap make this book a great read for anyone looking to be a servant for God.
Jun 06, 2013 rated it really liked it
What a challenging, inspiring, and motivating read. Peter targets so many key issues that plague the Christian life- exponentially more for those who live in Christian leadership. Does Peter have all the answers? No. He invites us into his own story and through joining him we can see reflections of his journey in ourselves. It's short, simple, clear, and anecdotal. It's moving, inviting, and gently places a mirror before us so we can "clean the spinach" off our own teeth.
Aug 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: first-reads
A really good guide to keeping your priorities straight in work situations. It's intended for Christian readers, but the message is helpful for anyone in a service oriented career. It's heartbreaking how many people devote their lives to the service of others and then realize that they've ruined relationships in the pursuit of the 'work.' (I received this book as a Goodreads giveaway).
Aug 19, 2013 rated it liked it
I received this book from a Goodreads giveaway.

The Spiritual Danger of Doing Good was a practical and easy to read book. The examples, personal references and quotes from the bible as well as other books helped to round out this book and help add credibility. Certainly made me think about the motives behind some of my actions!
John Turner
Aug 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Whether you Worship God or Mammon this book is a
must-read for all Workaholics! Most everything Mr.
Greer says is obvious, but who takes the time to sort everything out, arrange the information like ducks in a row, and present it as a simple Healing Tool for those of us who suffer from Pride or Greed?
I plan to take my copy to the next Wisdom Study Class
Tanner Cooper-Risser
Awesome read!

Great for service-oriented people. If you have a passion for serving and doing missions this may be the book for you. Like "When Helping Hurts" then you'll like this book to see what serving/helping can do to you and your life. It's a good reminder to seek first the Kingdom and everything else will be added. Anyone doing ministry should read this. Very good!
Chris Wilson
Sep 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Simply put, this is a must read for those in ministry. Thank you Peter Greer for your gift to those who serve. The honesty and frankness of dealing with the dark side of service compels us to remain faithful to the mission God has given us. Thanks be to God he uses us even though we are still engaged in warring against sin.
Sep 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
Really enjoyed the read. Having done volunteering and charitable work over the years (especially from 2000 - 2005) it was interesting to compare my experiences in the non-profit setting in Canada to those in the book. Thank you.
Oct 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
This book is an interesting meditation on various ways that people in helping professions and especially Christian ministry of any sort can end up doing harm to themselves and their families by trying to do good in the wrong ways and for the wrong reasons.
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“A [person] ought to live so that everybody knows he is a Christian . . . and most of all, his family ought to know. —D. L. Moody” 1 likes
“If you’ve served internationally or in your local church for any length of time, you eventually realize that doing good does not guarantee that only good things happen in your life.” 0 likes
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