Topic for the week: Service in AA
While I was an active alcoholic I didn’t do much for others or if I did, I expected something in return. When I came into AA my sponsor told me I needed to get involved in AA and doing service was an ideal way to do that. I wanted to stay sober and was willing to do what I was told would keep me sober so I started my service in AA, as many of us have, by making coffee. It was a great way to get out of my shell and actually talk to others instead of hiding in the back of the room, and as I attended more meetings, listened to what was being said, and started to understand the program more, my service commitments expanded to leading meetings, taking part in a local conference, and just about anything else I was capable of doing. Along with not drinking, doing AA service was just as important for this alcoholic as far as staying sober as it got me to meetings, got me to open up a bit about myself, got me listening to others – I found I didn’t know it all 🙂 – and got me to finally feel a part of something that was good for me, that would help me change the deeply unhappy, destructive life I led as an active alcoholic.
There are several reasons service is an integral part of the AA program…why service is one of the three Legacies of AA. For one, Alcoholics Anonymous wouldn’t survive if we didn’t have volunteers and “special workers” to do the work that’s needed to keep the program going, i.e., from organizing a meeting place, paying the bills, coordinating with hospitals and prisons, publishing approved materials, and so much more. In addition, as AA’s co-founders showed, we have to “give it away in order to keep it”, meaning that as members of AA we cannot stay sober unless we give of ourselves – our experience, our time, our effort – to others. As it states in the Big Book on page 89, “To watch people recover, to see them help others, to watch loneliness vanish, to see a fellowship grow up about you, to have a host of friends – this is an experience you must not miss. We know you will not want to miss it. Frequent contact with newcomers and with each other is the bright spot in our lives.”
Through the years I have always aimed to do something for AA which includes not only overt service work but also talking with others after a meeting, especially newcomers, or in the case of this online group, responding privately to a member’s share. And I still enjoy making coffee/tea at meetings as I get to meet just about everyone and chat with them for a bit…for me, it’s AA at its most basic. Service has been and I trust will continue to be a fundamental part of my sobriety…there is no AA without it and I know I can’t stay sober without AA. I need AA because sobriety is much more than just not drinking – it’s a way of life that I want to maintain and the only way to do that is to practice the program and take an active role in it, i.e., make service part of my recovery.
Service work may seem burdensome but speaking for myself, my sobriety has been enriched and strengthened by the service work I’ve done as a member of GROW. It does take time, which some of us may feel we don’t have, and other things such as effort, patience, etc. which some members may also feel they don’t have but as with so much in AA, when we give, we get something in return.
Here is the link to ‘AA’s Legacy of Service’, by Bill W. It’s an excellent read and will, I hope, inspire you to consider increasing your service to GROW and AA as a whole.
For this week’s meeting, please share on your experience of service in AA.
Thanks for letting me chair the meeting.
Michele R. (former GROW secretary)