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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Bethany House Publishers (August 1, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0764211021
  • ISBN-13: 978-0764211027
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 5.8 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (69 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #325,197 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

Charity and Service Have a Dark Side

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, the 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.

"Doing good can take its toll on our lives if we aren't careful. The Spiritual Danger of Doing Good is an honest look at the dangers we all need to avoid as we seek to make a difference."--Craig Groeschel, senior pastor, LifeChurch.tv

"Peter Greer is a friend and a brother. His newest book is a brilliant reminder that what we do is not nearly as important as who we are--and how much we give is not nearly as important as how much love is in the giving."--Shane Claiborne, author, activist, and lover of Jesus

"In this extremely timely and important book, Peter Greer applies the apostle Paul's teaching to the twenty-first century leader. Readable, humorous, and keenly insightful."--Brian Fikkert, author of When Helping Hurts

"This book is a needed message for all leaders interested in social justice, ministry, or simply loving their neighbors as themselves. It is timely and welcomed. So get ready for a challenge. Peter is a thought leader who is changing the world. Read this book!"--Brad Lomenick, president and lead visionary, Catalyst

"If you're ready to take an honest look at your leadership then read this work with a continual prayer on your lips: 'Lord, show me how this might be true in my life.' Too often Christian leaders gloss over these issues at their own peril. Read it, take heed, and become liberated from the hero who must die in order to live--you."--Dr. Scott C. Todd, senior vice president, Compassion International

"Anchored in personal, gut-honest experience, The Spiritual Danger of Doing Good is a clarion call to all of us. Peter and Anna discuss how to change the world without sacrificing what is most important. I deeply resonate with the principles found in this book.."--Stephan Bauman, president and CEO, World Relief

"Peter has nailed it. He has uncovered unique signs and situations we overlook as leaders that cause serious harm to ourselves and to others--particularly those we love most. Want to be a great leader? This is a must read."--David Spickard, president & CEO, Jobs for Life

" Peter helps us in practical ways to serve Jesus with a pure heart, pure love and  no applause necessary. I believe this book will get you in your gut and you'll be forever changed."--Anne Beiler, founder of Auntie Anne's, Inc.

"I wish I could have read The Spiritual Danger of Doing Good as a young pastor. My idealism has often been my greatest strength and my most catastrophic weakness. Peter understands this, and his stories and insights would have saved me from heartache and major mistakes.."--Chris Seay, pastor, Ecclesia Houston

"Provides a powerful wake-up call for Christians. The discussion questions and suggested videos on a variety of topics make this excellent for group studies. The Spiritual Danger of Doing Good should be required reading for all Christians whether they are involved in overseas missions or work in their own neighborhoods."--Congregational Libraries Today

"Greer outlines many of the dangers that go along with serving others, including an inflated ego, a judgmental heart, and serving the poor at the neglect of one's spouse and family. He offers insight and points readers to the God who asks us to love others, and to do it with a heart that is open to Him. This book is a great resource for anyone who serves others, whether as a pastor, nonprofit leader or volunteer at the local food bank."--Youthworker Journal

About the Author

Peter Greer is president and CEO of HOPE International, a global nonprofit focused on addressing both physical and spiritual poverty through microfinance. He has a master's degree in public policy from Harvard's Kennedy School. Peter coauthored The Poor Will Be Glad, speaks at conferences, including Catalyst and Passion, and has been featured by media outlets such as CNN, Christianity Today, and World. Peter lives in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, with his wife, Laurel, and three children. Learn more at www.peterkgreer.com.


Anna Haggard is the executive writing assistant at HOPE International, where she collaborates with the president and CEO and the marketing department to share HOPE's message through print and social media. She coauthored The Spiritual Danger of Doing Good with Peter Greer. Anna is a graduate of Asbury University and lives in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

Customer Reviews

A must read for anyone in the business of serving others - I highly recommend it!
Liz Woodman
This book was a really good reminder that God knows our heart: He knows if our heart is really in the service, and He doesn't want it half-heartedly or grudgingly.
Jaylie Wiegand
I appreciated the authentic stories, and I learned a lot through the responses that Peter shared.
Jenn M

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Lisa Bartelt on July 18, 2013
Format: Hardcover
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.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Liz Woodman on July 19, 2013
Format: Hardcover
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!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Isaac Ezell on July 19, 2013
Format: Hardcover
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 live better.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By EliHostetter on July 18, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Spiritual Danger of Doing Good, TheWhat 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
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jaylie Wiegand on August 1, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Typically I stay away from Christian-themed non-fiction because the writing gets boring and the themes dry. But when I saw this book--Peter Greer's "The Spiritual Danger of Doing Good"--on the book review list for Bethany House, it sounded interesting and I figured I would take a shot in the dark. And I'm glad I did! This succinct book is centered on WHY we work for Christ; in the context of humanitarian and international missions work (but relevant to all), many leaders become swayed by personal power and social acclaim and forget their true purpose for the work. Greer repeats over and over that we are not saved by works; God gives grace freely and He is not impressed with empty service or a checklist full of "good works".

Getting wrapped up in society's definition of success--based on comparison, needing 3AM friends--friends who hold you accountable at 3AM, and being preoccupied with work--neglecting faith and family--are a few of Greer's other critical points. This book was a really good reminder that God knows our heart: He knows if our heart is really in the service, and He doesn't want it half-heartedly or grudgingly. I feel like I can easily get caught up in the impression people get of me rather than why I actually go to the nursing home singing or reach out to people in church, and then my so-called "good works" are nothing more than a glorified time sheet, not love-filled hours for God.
The author writes with a down-to-earth sense of familiarity with the readers, as one who is retelling a story and really cares to share it with each person. The book is short--under 200 pages--and is broken up into themed chapters about different spiritual pitfalls; each chapter includes headings that divide the sections into many small accounts.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By John Gibbs TOP 1000 REVIEWER on July 27, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Doing good has a dark side, one rarely acknowledged, according to Peter Greer in this book. It is well-known that charity can be toxic and have harmful effects on its recipients, but doing good can also damage the giver. The greatest threat to our churches and ministries and spiritual growth is found not in external pressures, but within us.

So, what exactly are the spiritual dangers of doing good? The author enumerates quite a few of them:

* Giving too much time and effort to your ministry, to the neglect of your family
* Concentrating on growing your ministry while allowing your relationship with Christ to go cold
* Elevating a good cause to such a status that you can use it to justify minor moral lapses
* Measuring your success by the size of your ministry rather than by your faithfulness to God
* Engaging in superficial friendships instead of true accountable friendships
* Thinking that what you do is more important than what others do
* Seeing yourself as the hero in your story
* Refusing to be open to feedback
* Pretending to be someone other than who you really are
* Believing that God owes you good things as a reward you for your good work
* Pointing out other people's sin without noticing your own
* Worrying about what other people think about you
* Concentrating on increasing knowledge to the detriment of taking action
* Pretending to have it all together

With such a long list, there is sure to be something for any reader to reflect upon. Ironically, I am sure the author would agree that there is another spiritual danger not included in the list: the danger of having people praise you for having been so humble in writing such a book. Let me just add to the author's spiritual danger by saying that this is an entertaining book, well worth reading for anyone engaged in a ministry which involves serving others.
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