Book Review: The Gift of Disillusionment by Peter Greer and Chris Horst

This is a review of The Gift of Disillusionment by Peter Greer and Chris Horst. The book, published by Bethany House in 2022, looks at what it means for leaders (and individuals) to find a way to endure their circumstances and callings with hope, especially after disillusionment sets in, and after their idealism fades.

This is a review of The Gift of Disillusionment by Peter Greer and Chris Horst.
Often in life, we start our vocational journeys with a sense of call or purpose, “full of idealism, brimming with hopes and dreams.”[1] The authors point out that it is idealists that often “feel an inner prompt to respond.”[2] They continue, idealists are those “not content to merely bemoan injustice of just ponder how to respond, they step out with the courage to do something.”[3] In defensive of idealism, the authors point out that “at its core, idealism is built on promise and possibility – a vision of what could be.”[4] Yet, as often the case, our journeys traverse into barren lands with overwhelming and oppressive pains and problems arise.  The book fairly points out, that as a result of waning idealism “our expectations collide with our experiences. We realize there is more complexity, nuance, and challenge than we anticipated.” [5] Then, as a result, our once beaming “idealism is also besieged by the pain we experience.”[6] Consequently, “our unmet expectations and painful experiences lead to disillusionment.”[7] Through The Gift of Disillusionment, the authors illustrate that how we sustain ourselves in those moments of disillusionment will make all the difference. The ability to sustain ourselves in disillusionment begins when we allow the paradigm of the moment to be an invitation and not a cynical defeat.

This book is not about releasing more superheroes “to respond to those in need,” but rather encouraging individuals and church communities to be willing to “respond to those in need [with] sustained strength.”[8] The stories in this book remind us that we won’t find that sustained strength, or enduring hope, in our own “idealism, disillusionment, or cynicism,” but rather an enduring hope realizes we need to being “acknowledging our own insufficiency.”[9] In their conversations and studies, these authors find that it is pain and problem that our “difficult circumstances and limitations point us toward real and sustaining hopefulness – because they invite us to Jesus.”[10] It is this reason, that the authors - through stories and studies – maintain that being “wrapped in the pain of disillusionment is a gift: It’s an invitation to turn not inward but upward.”[11] Though, if we aren’t careful, disillusionment has the ability to turn us inward and at that point “we follow the well-trod path to cynicism.”[12] This book is about learning how to make the upward turn, towards enduring hope. In this way, the stories in this book continue to show the way those who journeyed into disillusionment chose to see it as a gift or “an invitation to turn not inward but upward.”[13]

The reader should be aware that the stories shared in this book are disportionality shared from missionary and global mission examples. Though, that is expected from two gentleman who have compassionately invested their lives into global justice, relief and mission work. The stories emerged as the authors “served alongside, partnered with, and admired global leaders who routinely face corrupt governments, religious persecution, natural disasters, and extreme poverty.” [14] They admit that while they have had “countless conversations with men and women leading and serving in difficult circumstances, [but] until researching this book, [they] had never overtly asked, “What keeps you there? What sustains your life of service? How have you not given in to discouragement? How do you hold on to hope?”[15] This book emerges from a place of asking leaders those questions about what it means to be sustained and energized, hopeful and encouraged, when facing the worst of situations. The leaders the authors chose to interview for this book were those with a minimum of twenty years of service in their fields and those who modeled the ability of “staying power, sticking around long enough to experience the thorniest and knottiest difficulties.”[16] The authors also mention that they sought out leaders “who had wounds and setbacks that could have forced them to give up – but who pressed on anyway.”[17] The stories are different, but the way that each person emerged from their moments of disillusionment, turning upward, begins to set familiar patterns for the reader.

Author Peter Greer is the president and CEO of HOPE International, a global Christ-centered economic development organization, based in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. HOPE International services throughout Africa, Asia, Latin America, and Eastern Europe.[18] Previously, he has authored several notable books, including Mission Drift, Rooting for Rivals and Created to Flourish. Co-Author Chris Horst is the chief advancement officer at HOPE international, and he also serves on the board of Mile High Workshop, and has also published other books – including co-authoring Rooting for Rivals with Peter Greer.

I would recommend this book, The Gift of Disillusionment by Peter Greer and Chris Horst, to those learning to see disillusionment as an invitation and paradigm shifting moment. In many ways, this book is a commentary through case studies on Paul’s words on suffering to the Roman and Corinthian church, and emphasizes earlier work done by Eugene Peterson. I believe this book could have been shorter, and carried the same impact, but many will enjoy the detail in the stories.

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Highlights & Quotes



[1] Peter Greer and Chris Horst, The Gift of Disillusionment: Enduring Hope for Leaders After Idealism Fades (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House, 2022), 17.

[2] Peter Greer and Chris Horst, The Gift of Disillusionment: Enduring Hope for Leaders After Idealism Fades (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House, 2022), 18.

[3] Peter Greer and Chris Horst, The Gift of Disillusionment: Enduring Hope for Leaders After Idealism Fades (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House, 2022), 18.

[4] Peter Greer and Chris Horst, The Gift of Disillusionment: Enduring Hope for Leaders After Idealism Fades (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House, 2022), 18.

[5] Peter Greer and Chris Horst, The Gift of Disillusionment: Enduring Hope for Leaders After Idealism Fades (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House, 2022), 18.

[6] Peter Greer and Chris Horst, The Gift of Disillusionment: Enduring Hope for Leaders After Idealism Fades (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House, 2022), 18.

[7] Peter Greer and Chris Horst, The Gift of Disillusionment: Enduring Hope for Leaders After Idealism Fades (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House, 2022), 18.

[8] Peter Greer and Chris Horst, The Gift of Disillusionment: Enduring Hope for Leaders After Idealism Fades (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House, 2022), 198.

[9] Peter Greer and Chris Horst, The Gift of Disillusionment: Enduring Hope for Leaders After Idealism Fades (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House, 2022), 198.

[10] Peter Greer and Chris Horst, The Gift of Disillusionment: Enduring Hope for Leaders After Idealism Fades (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House, 2022), 198.

[11] Peter Greer and Chris Horst, The Gift of Disillusionment: Enduring Hope for Leaders After Idealism Fades (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House, 2022), 19.

[12] Peter Greer and Chris Horst, The Gift of Disillusionment: Enduring Hope for Leaders After Idealism Fades (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House, 2022), 19.

[13] Peter Greer and Chris Horst, The Gift of Disillusionment: Enduring Hope for Leaders After Idealism Fades (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House, 2022), 19.

[14] Peter Greer and Chris Horst, The Gift of Disillusionment: Enduring Hope for Leaders After Idealism Fades (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House, 2022), 14-15.

[15] Peter Greer and Chris Horst, The Gift of Disillusionment: Enduring Hope for Leaders After Idealism Fades (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House, 2022), 14-15.

[16] Peter Greer and Chris Horst, The Gift of Disillusionment: Enduring Hope for Leaders After Idealism Fades (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House, 2022), 16.

[17] Peter Greer and Chris Horst, The Gift of Disillusionment: Enduring Hope for Leaders After Idealism Fades (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House, 2022), 16.

[18] Peter Greer and Chris Horst, The Gift of Disillusionment: Enduring Hope for Leaders After Idealism Fades (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House, 2022), 205.

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