The Dark Side of Doing Good

“With out evaluating our motives, it is possible to love our service more than we love our Savior.” – Peter Greer (CEO of Hope International)


I love telling people about our trip to Cambodia! It’s arguably the biggest event in my life since getting married and like marriage, it’s completely flipped my life upside down. Allie and I quit our jobs, we moved (away from the beautiful Santa Barbara, CA… probably the craziest part), and we will be living out of backpacks for 3 months in South East Asia. Pretty different than “9-5’s” and weekly trips to The Habit.

We have an exciting opportunity; I know it and quickly everybody I tell knows it. Allie and I will typically get some type of praise from Christians and non-Christians alike and sometimes it goes straight to our egos…
Encouragement and support is needed in such a crazy time that we are in, but I confess that it’s easy to get caught up in the romance of our missions trip abroad or the ‘noble’ action we are taking to help those getting out of Human trafficking.

My good friend Doug Clark’s dad  introduced to a book about the Spiritual Danger of Doing Good.  It’s written by the CEO of Hope International that focuses on Microfinance in needy areas of the world.  Since we will be trying to implement this in the lives of trafficked Cambodians, he gave me this book but I didn’t touch it until about a week before our flight.

My mindset on missions been refined, and just in time!!  This new perspective has shed light on the dangers of ministry that lead to “burn out, spiritual disillusionment, and relational ruin.”  All things that I could be fully susceptible to.

The book highlights points such as:

  • Being tempted to love your calling more than God
  • Caring too much about how you’re perceived by others in ministry
  • “It’s not our job to save people, ONLY Jesus can save.”
  • Doing good works with the expectation of affirmation or praise is the wrong motivation
  • Depending on self-maintained success

These are just a few take aways but what I’ve learned is that I need to “get over myself”.  It’s so easy to want to pat myself on my back for quitting my cushy job and moving to ‘nobly’ serve overseas.  Pride can easily get to people when they are always receiving praise by others.  “It’s possible to sacrificially serve God and be completely self-centered in the process!”  Coming from a culture that is so focused on praise, it’s important to recognize that we need to get over ourselves if we want to make a difference.

In addition, this means that we need to let God take control of us knowing that He will be the one making any type of difference.  When it comes down to it, God doesn’t need us.  God doesn’t need anything, period.  This book has helped me process what our motivation should come from.  Our choice to serve must only come from our response to God’s love and faithfulness to us.

May we learn to love God and serve well.

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