“The Spiritual Danger of Doing Good” by Peter Greer, with Anna Haggard

Back cover reads:

You want to live out the Gospel by serving others, and you’re willing to sacrifice your time, money, and perhaps even your safety. But do you realize the spiritual dangers you face as you serve? Peter Greer, CEO of a Christian nonprofit, found that serving others and seeking justice actually did him harm. He shares how something that started with the noblest of intentions got off track – and how he got back on course. His story is a compassionate warning for anyone who works in ministry or charitable nonprofits, from CEOs to weekend volunteers.

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Peter Greer, along with Anna Haggard, give us a look into the seldom mentioned dangers of serving others. In The Spiritual Danger of Doing Good, Greer draws upon his own story and the experiences of many other known leaders in ministry and nonprofit circles to outline fourteen so-called “spiritual dangers.” After providing a brief introduction to his own struggles and failings in the chapter “confessions of a do-gooder,” Greer outlines each spiritual danger in a concise chapter of its own. He begins with a quote, scripture or otherwise, and then describes how we can see this danger at work through very relevant examples and personal testimony. Greer and Haggard highlight key ideas in each chapter with large, bold print for easy reference and focus. They conclude each chapter with related discussion questions and a link to a web page with content related to the topic discussed.

This book is a fast, engaging read for anyone involved in service to others – whether abroad in missions or in the workplace here at home. Quite frankly, I really enjoyed it. In a culture obsessed with social media and being concerned with how others see us, Greer and Haggard provide a refreshingly honest look at the “dark side” of Christian charity. I really appreciated Greer’s personal story of brokenness and learning these spiritual dangers the hard way, even after gaining notoriety and success as the president and CEO of HOPE International. He does a great job challenging the reader to really think critically about serving, and to examine our hearts alongside others who will help hold us accountable. From the “spiritual danger of giving leftovers to loved ones” to the danger of “seeing everyone’s sin but your own,” Greer doesn’t shy away from hard questions and gray areas. This book will challenge you to reevaluate your priorities and look for ways to protect yourself, your ministry, and those you care about as you serve. I’m only sad I hadn’t thought critically about these issues until I read this book.

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*This book was provided free from Bethany House Publishers with my promise to post an unbiased review.

The Spiritual Danger of Doing Good by Peter Greer, with Anna Haggard. Bloomington, MN: Bethany House Publishers. 2013. 189 pages, $16.99, hardcover. ISBN 978-0-7642-1102-7