Book Review: The Spiritual Danger of Doing Good

I rarely pass up a free book, especially when it comes from someone in the nonprofit world. I received an advanced reader copy of The Spiritual Danger of Doing Good by Peter Greer and Anna Haggard. I was thinking it would be similar to When Helping Hurts by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert, because Greer is the president and CEO of HOPE International, a microfinance charity.

So I was surprised that the danger Greer is speaking of is internal danger to the giver. The 17 short chapters cover 14 spiritual dangers that come from doing too much without paying attention to your life, from “giving leftovers to loved ones” to “thinking you’re the superhero in your story.”

I especially was convicted by what he calls “the concept of ‘Christian karma.'” It is the “thought that God and I had a deal—what I sow, I reap. What I give, I get in return. When I do good, I get good results.” And as Greer says, “When the returns weren’t what I had hoped they would be, I was disappointed.”

This book should be required reading for every minister, every person in church and charity leadership, and every nonprofit junkie.

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.” As Greer says, “It’s possible to sacrificially serve God and be completely self-centered in the process.” And when we’re self-centered, we rarely see our own weaknesses. This book, and Greer’s vulnerability, can help us face ourselves and bring us back to the God who can mitigate the danger.

You can preorder it from or any other bookstore.



3 thoughts on “Book Review: The Spiritual Danger of Doing Good”

  1. Fix the spelling errors. The review, and the reviewer, is cut down in quality due to lack of conscientiousness.

    Also, the author may want to consider expanding the readership in a further edition to include other spiritual faiths in the discussion of these topics to make the connection that Humans doing Good, not just Christians, comes with its own rewards and pitfalls. Unfortunately, this seems like a largely missed opportunity.

  2. Thanks, B, for taking time to comment and for mentioning the typos so I had an opportunity to edit it again.

    Greer does write from his own Christian perspective, but you are right that many of his principles would apply to anyone, whatever his or her faith.


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