Avoid thinking you’re the superhero in your story. When something great happens as a result of your service work, don’t take credit for what God has done through you as if you were doing it on your own. Remember that you’re dependent on God for everything – even your next breath. Rather than aiming to be a superhero through your service, aim to give God glory, and you’ll discover that you’re part of a much bigger story than you could have dreamed.

Avoid not having ears to hear the uncomfortable truth. It’s crucial to your accountability while serving in ministry to allow people you trust to challenge you by pointing out issues they notice in your life that could be hindering your ministry and/or your relationship with God. Instead of making excuses or minimizing the issues, welcome loving critiques as valuable invitations to repent and change.

Avoid forgetting your true identity. Although fulfilling work is a gift from God, it’s not nearly enough for you to base your identity on. Keep in mind that your true identity lies in something much greater: your relationship with Jesus Christ, which (unlike your work) is eternal.

Avoid thinking good things always happen to good people. Reject the myth that if you do good work for God, you’ll receive guaranteed blessings from God in return. The truth is just like Jesus warns in the Bible: in this fallen world, we’ll all have trouble. When you suffer, realize that God can use your experiences to accomplish good purposes in your service work, such as giving you more compassion for people in pain.

Avoid seeing everyone’s sin but your own. Focusing on other people’s sins while ignoring your own does no good other than to inflate your ego and increase your self-righteousness – which will only hinder your service work. Avoid that danger by inviting people to share your blind spots with you and seriously considering what they tell you.

Avoid being obsessed with what others think. Stop trying to please other people through your service work (which often leads to wasted time and energy). Instead, work to please the only One whose opinion of you ultimately matters: God.

Avoid disconnecting knowledge from action. Rather than simply gaining more knowledge, apply that knowledge to your life as the Holy Spirit leads you. God doesn’t care as much about what you know as He does about what you’re doing with the knowledge you have.

Avoid pretending to have it all together. When you stop pretending to be perfectly holy while you serve, you become free to pursue the healing and spiritual growth you need, which will make you much more effective in your service work than you could be otherwise.

Adapted from The Spiritual Danger of Doing Good, copyright 2013 by Peter Greer with Anna Haggard. Published by Bethany House Publishers, a division of Baker Publishing Group, Minneapolis, Mn., bakerpublishinggroup.com/bethanyhouse.

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 the marketing department to share HOPE's message to donors through print and social media. Anna is a graduate of Asbury University and lives in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

Whitney Hopler, who has served as a Crosswalk.com contributing writer for many years, is author of the new Christian novel Dream Factory, which is set during Hollywood's golden age. Visit her website at: whitneyhopler.naiwe.com.

Publication date: October 14, 2013