Doing Good or Doing Well

By: Larry Leiser

Ephesians 1: 17-20

I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms…

At my ten-year college reunion, as I opened the door to the student union building, the Reverend Edward Gannon, S.J., was walking out. Seeing me, he said, “Lawrence, are you doing ‘good’ (Christ’s work) or are you doing ‘well’ (acquiring material wealth)?” I had not seen, nor spoken to Fr. Gannon in ten years, but in one sentence he immediately got to the essence of Christ’s challenge for each of us: Are you doing good or are you doing well?

Over the years, I have often reflected on that question. Am I doing Christ’s work, or am I exclusively working for myself? In my chosen career as a federal prosecutor, I have been blessed to have the opportunity to do good by seeing that justice is well-served. While I have been blessed with many material things and am also doing “well”, there have been many temptations and opportunities to do even better financially by going into private practice. However, that is not what I feel led by God to do.

One of my favorite judges, before he sentences someone, says in part: “Life is about making choices,” and “Only you can write each chapter of the book of your life.” For many, the choice to have “doing good” be the predominate theme in their lives is one that has given them great serenity. For many people, doing “good” is simply being good at what you do for a living. For others, “doing well” is important and motivates them to be successful in their chosen fields. I have come to the conclusion that God calls us to “do good” in whatever circumstance we place or find ourselves. If “doing good”, both professionally and spiritually, results in your also “doing well”, all the better.

God’s love for us is best seen in his giving us the freedom to make choices. We can choose to do “good”, we can choose to do “well”, or in many cases, a combination of both. God calls us to do “good” over doing “well”, but his infinite love allows us to select the degree to which we do either and to be the authors of the books of our lives.

Those books are not fiction or fairytale where everything is always perfect, where there is no sickness, failures, evil, or uncontrollable events. They can be books with happy endings despite trials and tribulations, but this requires the hard work of prayer, sacrifice, and an enlightenment of the eyes of our minds and souls to realize the hope that God’s call holds for us as believers.


TAKE THE CHALLENGE: Are you doing “good” or simply doing “well”?