The problem with ‘doing good’

We just don't know how to do it well

At the top of an email I received today, was this quote:

“Go into the world and do well. But more importantly, go into the world and do good.” (Minor Myers)

Photo: http://tinyurl.com/o8c55fp

Photo: http://tinyurl.com/o8c55fp

I read it a couple of times, over and over, just to make sure I understood it.

Do well. Do good.

What does that mean? 

Doing well for myself is hard, but it is also easy because the fruits of my efforts point back to me.

I graduate. I get a new job. I seek riches.

Doing good, however, is harder because the fruits of these efforts are not pointed back to me.

Doing good is centered on others.

In the church, we’ve often heard the words of the Apostle Paul repeated time and again about how we need to have faith in Christ; “works” won’t do it for us.

But then we remember another passage from the New Testament, “Faith without works is dead.”

That sounds a lot like doing good.

Yet, in the church, it seems that we’re a bit confused about all of this, not the least because it isn’t clear how to do good.

How can we promote something that isn’t clear?  And who makes the decision about what is or is not doing good?

Some churches do community outreaches. They give away school supplies each Fall. Or they have a food pantry.

Yes, these things contribute to doing some good.

But how often do we ask ourselves, How much good are we really doing?

Are we only doing a minimal amount of good?

Are our efforts just a façade for doing good?

In doing good, we often do what is easiest.  We give to the charity that calls us.  We put money in the offering plate because it passes by us on Sunday.  We give to the young adult who wants to travel to another country for two weeks on a church-related trip.

But is giving our money to these endeavours actually doing good?

The truth is, doing good can be downright hard.

Sometimes we think we do good when we give to people.  But then, perhaps, they take our money and use it to buy something harmful for themselves.  Or we give to a charity, only later learning that their executives are living much better lives than we are.

I think I heard somebody put it this way: “The problem with doing good is that we don’t know how to do good.”

We don’t know how because we fail to ask important questions about how much good our giving is actually doing.

Fortunately, doing good doesn’t have to be difficult.

These organizations have been studying this topic for some time.  One of them even considers how we can use our careers for doing good.

It all starts with considering not just the need to do good, but how we we might go about doing the most good.

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