253: The Spiritual Danger of Doing Good by Peter Greer

by Gerard


253.2: Greer, Peter with Anna Haggard. The Spiritual Danger of Doing Good. Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House, 2013. 176 pp. ISBN 978-0-7642-1102-7.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 200: Religion
  • 250: Christian pastoral practice and religious orders
  • 253: Pastoral office and work (Pastoral theology)
  • 253.2: Pastoral theology concerning life and person

Sadly, even when you do good deeds there is a possibility that you will be doing for the wrong reasons. Even if it’s for the right reasons, the good you do may come at the detriment of other areas in your life. Peter Greer (with the help of Anna Haggard) writes about his experiences running non-profits in The Spiritual Danger of Doing Good and along the way, he discovers how to life a more meaningful, honest, and spiritual life all while trying to make the world a better place.

Greer lays out facets of doing good that can lead to personal and spiritual danger. One should not justify moral lapses in the course of trying to accomplish great deed; these small lapses will lead to bigger ones later on. One should always be mindful to balance good deeds with good relationships; do not sacrifice your marriage or friendships because you’re devoting yourself to a good cause. One should not bask in the pride of doing good deeds; this approach only serves to alienate others. On and on he goes. Each chapter focuses on a different perspective of how doing good can actually interfere with a fulfilling life. All of Greer’s lessons come from a Christian perspective and incorporate Biblical passage to help explain the struggles of doing good.

The best thing about this book is that all the passage come from a place of truth. Greer’s honest appraisal of his life and works leads give him a good place to start when talking about hubris, philanthropy, and altruism. He has made almost every misstep listed in this slim volume, but with the help of his family, his friends, and his faith, he strives to better himself while also bettering the world. This makes for a pretty effective spiritual gut-check. If you’re looking for a helping hand while also helping others, then this book should fit the bill.