Be the Hand
I am responsible. When anyone, anywhere, reaches out for help, I want the hand of AA to always be there. And for that: I am responsible.
The above-quoted “ Responsibility Statement “ was written for the 1965 Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) International Convention in Toronto, Canada. Authorship is credited to a guy by the name of Al S.
Little did Al know that decades later, those living this responsibility would keep the door ajar for fellas like Mike and Glenn. We were reaching out. We were desperate. We were looking for a hand to pull us from the water we were taking in. We found the doors open, chairs set, the coffee pot on, and hearts and ears attuned, ready to support us unimaginably.
What a blessing service was for two hopeless souls.
AA functions in such a remarkable, yet peculiar, way. There are no paid staffers in the field, though some work at the central offices, so the organization is run entirely by volunteers. These nonprofessionals serve collectively to ensure AA gatherings (meetings) are available at their published place and time. In doing so, these assemblies support recovery, setting the course for saving lives.
One would think that being part of a miraculous recovery transformation of another human being would be enough to set the cycle of service on repeat. And repeat. And repeat. This, obviously, is the significant benefit, but there are many additional advantages. Below are some supplementary rewards to consider for AA service work:
Service takes your mind off your problems
We lead with this one because this is the biggie. It is easy to get wrapped up in our situational selfishness and the drama that usually follows. When we are constantly focused on ourselves, it can get exhausting. Presenting oneself to the service of another is like taking a 200-pound weight off your shoulders. It's remarkable how much energy you can recapture when exerting strength for somebody else.
We have found that small service removes modest amounts of weight, and more extensive service removes more significant amounts of weight.
Service strengthens our network of support.
We've said it before, and we will repeat it here; AA is a “we program.” What we found is that we got where we got by flying solo. Service work is an opportunity to add people to our network of support. And, when we serve, we reinforce the bond of respect and trust that is so important in relationships.
This is invaluable in times of stress or distress. Through our experiences, those supporters can become lifelong friends if we remain open and committed to serving them along the way.
Service builds community
This dovetails the “strengthening of your network.”. Service work strengthens the community. Communities support the struggler as that is where one turns in a time of need. You see this happening through service work inside the confines of AA and outside, in the “real world,” where communities care for their members, and participants care for the fellowship. It is a contagious self-fulfilling progression. Without active involvement from its members, communities die off. Remembering that it is where community exists, personal introductions are forged. (Meet new people!)
There are so many ways to care for the fellowship. Rooms need to be cleaned; coffee ordered; chair people are required; plants ought to be watered; calls need to be made and taken. Driveways plowed and ashtrays emptied; rides were given, and shoulders to cry on, to name a few.
Working together on a common goal (the sobriety of all) spreads the load of responsibility and makes more achievement possible.
Service can be fun
The AA fellowship is made up of such a diverse group of individuals that it is nearly impossible not to connect if you put yourself out there. We found camaraderie with drinkers and druggers when we were off ripping it up. Legitimate fun can be had when the common denominator is sobriety.
You can organize a golf outing, a fishing trip, a poker tournament, a Super Bowl party, a picnic, etcetera. Almost anybody is qualified In the area of friendship and fun.
Service aligns with a purpose.
“Our primary purpose is to stay sober and help the next alcoholic to achieve sobriety” is part of the preamble we read at the beginning of most meetings we have attended. The associated feeling is much more than what the sentence offers. This is an opportunity to take the experiences of your life and your proven practices of the program to impact a life so positively and so profoundly that we promise it will move you at your core.
Service doesn't stop inside the rooms of AA. This should be the beginning of a life filled with seeking serving opportunities. To find fulfillment in small bits, we should look for ways to serve our family, friends, neighborhood, and churches. It is in service that we find fulfillment.
SPOILER ALERT: Service helps the server!
Will you be the hand of AA today?
Thoughts and ideas for this blog post were taken and built upon from sober.coffee podcast #100 Megan: Service Work The podcast dropped on 2/22/2023. Click here to hear the podcast.
Alcoholics Anonymous and AA are registered trademarks of Alcoholics World Service. Inc. References to AA, the 12 steps, and 12 traditions does not mean that AA has reviewed or approved the contents of this publication nor that AA agrees with the views expressed herein. This publication is intended to support personal growth and should not be considered a substitute for healthcare professionals' advice. The author’s advice and viewpoints are their own.