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SocEnt Reads: The Dangers of Doing Good & Checklist Manifesto

Social Justice Book Reviews

So here’s the latest on our good reads list:

  • The Spiritual Danger of Doing Good, by Peter Greer
    “We had been caught up in a delusion, one that many fall into: As long as our graphs are up and to the right, as long as we have a growing ministry, a bigger congregation, larger amounts of giving, and more good works, we must be on the right path…but fascination with such markers is toxic.”

    Sound like the way you measure organizational success? It is for me. And that’s why this book is such a good read.  For those of us in the business of “doing good,” it’s easy to slip into behavior patterns that initially seem benign, but eventually could damage us, damage our work, damage our families. Peter Greer, CEO of Hope International, has experienced this firsthand, and this book shares the lessons he learned.

    Most chapters were convicting for me. Addressing issues such as “do gooder” pride to selfish ambition to elevating ministry over family to the need for accountability – yikes! Almost every chapter contained truths I needed to learn. Just because we’re engaged in a noble cause doesn’t mean we’re immune to the struggles that everyone else faces. Becoming aware of this is key.

    Peter also does a great job giving action steps for each chapter. “Here’s the truth, now here’s how to apply it,” was a key part in the book’s effectiveness. After all, what good is it to learn if there is no application to our personal lives?

    REVIEW SUMMARY: Involved in any type of social justice work? Then you probably could benefit from The Spiritual Danger of Doing Good. The last thing you want is for your “good work” to become an agent of hurt, and this book provides a much needed spiritual checkup to prevent just that.

  • The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Thing Right by Atul Gawande
    “Checklists seem able to defend anyone, even the experienced, against failure in many more tasks than we realized. They provide a kind of cognitive net. They catch mental flaws inherent in all of us…and because they do, they raise wide, unexpected possibilities.”

    I’ll confess, I’m addicted to my to-do list It keeps me focused, productive, and I just love checking off those little boxes. Because of this predisposition, I figured The Checklist Manifesto was probably just going to confirm my previously held up knowledge on how great to-do lists were.

    Um, yeah, the book has done that. But oh, I’ve learned far, far more than I expected. Gawande posits that human knowledge has grown to such an extent that it’s almost impossible for us to correctly apply all that we know, especially in high pressure situations. There’s just too much to keep track of in our highly technological, highly scientific society. Error, then, is a natural result. Enter the checklist.

    Gawande explores the power of checklists in medicine, aviation, construction, even at high-end restaurants. He shows how excellence can become a consistent experience with a well-designed checklist. As we work on creating processes for our at-home manufacturing experiment, Gawande’s insights into checklist creation could be a key for effective quality control, schedule organization, customer outreach, etc.

    REVIEW SUMMARY: How had I never heard of Gawande before? His prose is engaging and he does a masterful job of turning a potentially boring subject, quality control, into a fascinating read. I loved the The Checklist Manifesto and I’m excited about how it could revolutionize our program.

Now it’s your turn! What books, articles, magazines, podcasts, etc. are you learning from this month? Share your #goodreads in the comments section.

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