Joy in Service

We have found that service works best when we have no expectations on the outcomes.  ~ 12 Step Literature

I find that when there is joy in service, the service provided will be optimal. It serves no one to do things out of pity, people pleasing, or in resentment. The product of such attitudes will surely suffer. I think there is a nut for every bolt. It is up to each person to find what fits for him/herself. One of my first experiences was trying to be a group treasurer. I figured that I am an educated and intelligent person, so surely I should be able to manage a group’s checkbook. Apparently, it takes a bit of math skills! I paid out the contributions and rent costs. And, a few days later, I got notice that all of the checks had bounced. What the….! It turns out that the prior treasurer had written but not recorded some checks still outstanding. I paid the group back for the bank fees, and stepped down promptly. One lesson learned. I no longer offer to do financial work for anyone. In fact, I no longer have my own checking account. The other lesson learned was to have the group’s books audited periodically.

So, I would encourage everyone to figure out what your skills are. What brings you joy? How can you be of service?  We give back freely what we were freely given. Most folks will say that just being a sponsor and showing up for meetings is enough. Do you remember that saying “half measures availed us nothing”? We need to get beyond ourselves and our own daily ruts. Jobs to do the group level may include: secretary, treasurer, literature, Grapevine display, greeter/hugger, making coffee, supplies, contact person, newcomer greeter, and leading a meeting, etc. I was told to show up early and stay late. So, for me, it is a two hour commitment and fellowship time, not to just come and go at my leisure. This is a WE program. Not only do we need each other, the group needs you. Be of service.

Principles Before Personalities

Ever reminding us to place principles before personalities.

~ AA Step#12. 

We place principles before personalities. Good gosh, how that concept saved me many a time. In Step #12 we are reminded that no one is in charge, no other alcoholic is the leader or lord and master over any of us at any time, and that we are all just trusted servants. It is so true what they say: the things we hate in others, are the exacts same things we struggle with in our own personalities.  I find it helpful to do my daily 10th step inventory as it happens in addition to the daily one done in the morning. If I happen to run into a troubling person in a meeting or while doing service work, I sit down later and try to figure out where I was wrong. Recently, I just finished updating the bylaws for another 12 step group. It took me a lot of time over 10 months to get it right and to gather the information needed from various people. Whew. I was glad to see it done.

As I submitted it for publication, the gatekeeper of the website bulked at the formatting. She had other ideas on how it ought to be written. I was not so happy with that response, so she went around me, and tried to get another board member to veto my submission. Long story short: I got mad, I did my 10th step, I spoke with my sponsor, and then (surpise! suprise!) I prayed. The notion that perhaps the chairperson is responsible for dealing with such things finally dawned on me. I know, I am pretty stubborn. I had to look at my ego issues, perfectionism, controlling, and stubbornness. What is good for the group and what is the group consensus will carry the day. As I let go of that service job, I can let go knowing I did my best, whether or not they redo those bylaws is their business, and I have a G.O.D. that can handle whatever comes as a result. Let go, bide your time and do not let personalities (especially your own) interfere with sobriety.

Missed Yesterday

Service is the key to getting to the heart of AA. It is what keeps us coming back. ~ Anon

Ooops, I over booked; then my computer mouse died. I am up and running again. I spent the weekend at a 12 step convention. There were some powerful messages of recovery. The most meaningful was that one must be completely sober in order to work the steps. I am so glad that such events exist locally and at a very reasonable cost. There is a great deal of work to be done to achieve such an event. There are boards positions such as chair, vice chair, etc. And, there are committee jobs such as registration, decorations, fund raising, etc. This year, I put the flyer together. I am not all that good at key boarding, but I got through it and it looked presentable.

I had the opportunity to speak as well. That was an honor. I spoke on the topic of acceptance as needed to work the 12 steps and how they apply to my life. Then, I gave them some questions on how these acceptance issues would apply in their lives. They seemed to appreciate that. Most importantly, was that we got to know each other a little bit more. Sometimes, just sitting and listening instead of applying the learning can get tiresome. I am one of those who is easily distracted and bored when required to sit and listen. It is probably the ADD in me. Ha ha. At any rate, we applied tradition #9 well, and it paid off. Be a part of, not apart from.

A Motley Crew

AA, as such, ought never be organized; but we may create service boards or committees directly responsible to those they serve. ~ AA 12 X 12

We are a motley crew of drunks who manage to have special events, service boards and committees, conventions, etc. that go off seemingly well. I know it baffles newcomers who want to know who is in charge. Who should they go to for the rules and directions? I used to wonder that too. My objective was that I wanted someone to blame if I failed. I also wanted to know what the rules were, so I could systematically run afoul of them; in the hopes of being kicked out. That didn’t work either!

This weekend, I will be attending a 12 step state convention. Somehow, several parts of the state come together each year and throw themselves a fun, weekend long party. Everyone is welcome to participate. No one is turned away if they cannot afford it. We each pitch in. This year, I put the flyer together, will do a shift or two at the registration table, and speak. I am speaking on the topic of acceptance. Had I never accepted the concept that I was an alcoholic, and that my life was unmanageable by me, I would not be 31 years sober. I would not be up at 6 AM typing this, and I surely would not be spending a whole weekend at a 12 step convention. Join the party and get involved. Your soul will thank you.

Structure

AA, as such, ought never be organized, but we may created service boards and committees directly responsible to those they serve. ~ AA 12 X 12

Gees, it is nearly mid month, I have not even mentioned the tradition of the month, and that is #9. The key word for this tradition is structure. What most of us have learned about AA and most 12 step programs, is that there are no bosses, no one is in control, and we are an unorganized organization! At the top of most nonprofits is a service board that will have at least one member on it. The rest is made up of professional and community members. These boards act as arbiters of the organization’s business. In most situations, they oversee the decisions about legal and financial matters, to ensure the nonprofit is run correctly according to the laws of the land.

AA is an upside down pyramid. The members and groups have more say so than does any entity over it. Each group is autonomous, unless it effects AA as a whole. I have had the wonderful but challenging opportunity to serve on many committees and even on some regional and intergroup boards. Committees might take care of public information, outreach, 12 step work, elections, events, banquets, etc. Service boards are usually involved in how to handle the money, setting up and maintaining an office, phone lines, publishing meeting lists, hotlines, information, literature sales, etc. There is a great deal of work to do. It takes a group effort and cooperation to keep our doors opened and to have help available for the still suffering alcoholic. Be part of the solution, and be of service.

Am I Represented?

Each group is autonomous, but they cannot thrive and grow without the assistance of their intergroup, district or world service offices. It reminds me of the old phrase: no man is an island. We are social creatures who need the support and compassion of others to help us feel a part of something bigger than our own unsteady willpower. We need their guidance. We need their resources. We need their experience, strength and hope. Otherwise we are ships in the night that may run aground or bump into each other.

Today, our intergroup is meeting at 1 PM at the AA Central Office 1620 Pleasant Street http://www.aadesmoines.org/contact.htm.

The District meets at 3 PM at the White House, 1400 Penn Avenue. http://whitehouseaa.com/index.php?option=com_frontpage&Itemid=1

There are many service opportunities to be fulfilled. Once you become involved, your circle of spiritual support opens up and widens. There is no reason to wrestle the tiger by yourself.  Your meeting needs to have a vote on how AA functions. If it has no representative, then I encourage you to step into those empty shoes, register as a rep today, and bring home the information imparted, so that your group can grow and blossom. Be the voice of recovery that the next newcomers need to hear. Be the peace and sanity you wish in this world. It begins with you.