Every service responsibility should be matched by an equal service authority, with the scope of such authority well defined.
Every service responsibility should be matched by an equal service authority—the scope of such authority to be always well defined whether by tradition, by resolution, by specific job description or by appropriate charters and bylaws.
Questions in service
· In each service role, is the scope of my authority well defined?
· Do I have any authority in excess of my responsibility?
· Do I have any responsibility in excess of my authority?
· Where there is an imbalance, what can I do to rectify the situation?
Questions in service and life
· Where have I been given authority and responsibility in my life?
· Are there any areas where I am consistently failing in my responsibilities?
· Do I focus in my nightly review on how well I am discharging those responsibilities, or do I get distracted by the mental garbage of the day?
· In my nightly review, do I measure myself against my own vision of myself or against God's vision, expressed through the authority and responsibility delegated to me in my life?
· When I delegate, do I trust?
· When I delegate, do I dictate?
· When I delegate, do I interfere?
· Do I exercise ultimate authority sparingly or excessively?
· When I have to exercise ultimate authority, do I do so kindly and without hostility?
· When I am delegated to, do I serve cheerfully and helpfully, or am I defiant, defensive, and fearful?
· Do I surrender to the group conscience when there is conflict?
· Do I say 'yes' when I should say 'no' to authority and responsibility, when it is offered?
· Do I say 'no' when I should say 'yes' to authority and responsibility, when it is offered?
· If God has given me a talent, that talent is a form of authority, with which comes responsibility: am I living up to my talents, however small?
· How well do I exercise the choice about what to refer back to the 'ultimate authority' and what to handle myself?
· When I am given responsibility for something, do I trust God to manage my timetable, or do I betray mistrust through hurry?
· Do I put others on pedestals, mistakenly viewing their delegated authority as absolute authority?
· Do I see that everything that comes to me comes through others, not from others?
· Do I recognise God as the ultimate authority behind every legitimate authority over me?
· Do I stand up to illegitimate authority, following the ultimate authority of God speaking through my conscience?
Additional questions in the home
· In the family home, is the principle of 'senior jurisdiction' and 'junior jurisdiction' applied in each area?
· Where I have 'junior jurisdiction', do I avoid poking my nose into others' 'senior jurisdiction'?
· Where others have 'senior jurisdiction', do I exercise 'right of appeal' and 'right of petition' where necessary?
· Where I have 'senior jurisdiction', do I listen others' 'right of appeal' and 'right of petition'?
· The AA service structure consists in a chain of delegated authority: the Conference Delegates have ultimate authority over the Trustees; the Groups have ultimate authority over the Delegates.
· Each body of servants (in the UK, whether Intergroup, Region, sub-committees, officers) needs to know whom it is serving—those it serves have ultimate authority.
· Without delegated authority, you end up with direction on every minute issue, and dictatorship: those who actual do the work then have responsibility but no authority. This is dictatorship.
· To avoid this, ultimate authority must be used sparingly—effectively, only in an emergency.
· An 'emergency', for these purposes, is where the delegated authority 'has gone wrong, when it must be reorganised because it is ineffective, or because it constantly exceeds its defined scope and purpose'.
· Ultimate authority is exercised in four ways: censure, reorganisation, dismissal, and withholding of funds.
· Delegated authority, operating well, should not be interfered with.
· Where there is joint or conflicting authority, 'senior jurisdiction' must be established.
· 'Split authority' or 'double-headed management' must be avoided.
Specific safeguards to ensure authority matches responsibility
· Under the Conference Charter, some ultimate authority is delegated to Conference, which may decide which matters it resolves itself and which it refers back to groups, and whose delegates vote in accordance with their conscience.
· Trustees vote at Conference and have legal rights of veto over Conference where, rarely, this is necessary; Conference could subsequently censure, reorganise, or repopulate the Board, however.
From Bill W.'s essays on the Twelve Concepts:
'An outstanding characteristic of every good operational structure is that it guarantees harmonious and effective function by relating its several parts and people in such a way that none can doubt what their respective responsibilities and corresponding authorities actually are. Unless these attributes are well defined; unless those holding the final authority are able and willing properly to delegate and maintain a suitable operational authority; unless those holding such delegated authority feel able and willing to use their delegated authority freely as trusted servants; and unless there exists some definite means of interpreting and deciding doubtful situations-then personal clashes, confusion, and ineffectiveness will be inevitable.'
From Dennis F.:
'The Tenth Concept tells me that I also need to accept and exercise the authority for my talents that God gives me in order to keep growing in my capacity to serve.'
'When I say "no", I listen to the voice of alcoholism which seeks to paralyse me from taking action out of fear. I become fearful that I won't succeed. My disease knows that the only way I can go back to drinking now is to be paralyzed out of fear so that I will stop working a program and go back to drinking. This is one reason we don't say "no" to a [legitimate] AA request. I need the same attitude to the rest of my live in using my talents to serve.'
'When I say "no" to a challenge God sends me, I am telling God that I don't think I am ready for it. God respects my "Right of Decision" (see Concept Three) and is patient with me. God gave me many opportunities at sobriety in the ten years that I drank, but I was not ready. I said "no". What did He do? He saw that I learned the lessons that I had to learn in those ten years of drinking without killing myself or anyone else. He was patient, and He waited for me until I was ready because He loves me. I am to respect the "Right of Decision" in other people the same way. I am to respect your pace and your "no". As Bill points out in the reading, I need to respect your "Right of Decision" to choose which matters you can handle and to refer back other matters for future guidance. The "Right of Decision" helps to keep authority and responsibility in proper balance.'
'If I say "no" long enough, my responsibilities will be given to someone else, and my authority will be removed. Talent improves when it is used, and it dies when it is not used. This is also true in regard to the gift of sobriety. If I make Twelfth Step calls when I am asked, my sobriety prospers. If I say "no" to Twelfth Step work, it will not be very long before I am back to drinking. When I am tempted to say "no", I want to remember that God would not permit a responsibility to be asked of me unless He was also going to give me the authority to carry it out. I need to risk faith, say "yes", and take the plunge. God would not ask me to do something unless He was also going to give me the answers I need, at the time that I need them, to accomplish the job.
I have to surrender my alcoholic insecurity of thinking that I won't commit myself to a project until I have all the answers ahead of time. I can plunge in and handle any project God gives me because I believe He will give me the authority to handle it. I pray for an attitude of fearlessness in accepting the challenges God presents to me. I believe that we were made to be fearless. I have the confidence of seeing the daily miracle of sobriety in my life to know that I can rely on God to accomplish anything else through me the He cares to accomplish. This is the basis of my attitude of fearlessness toward life's challenges.'
The divine timetable
'One of my fears that I have had to overcome in dealing with my talents is the fear that "there is not enough time to handle everything I have to do with this added burden." When I discovered that I could turn my time schedule over to the love of God and operate on a divine timetable instead, this fear was removed. I discovered that God does not add new challenges to my life without also balancing my timetable. I find that I am relieved of some old responsibilities or that I am not to do certain tasks anymore, but to delegate them to others. I then learn that I must delegate authority equal to the responsibility I delegate to others, just as God does to me in this Tenth Concept. When I rush or hurry because I don't think there is enough time to accomplish everything, I am really saying that I don't think God has a divine timetable for my life. I am saying that I am in charge because only I know the timetable, and time is running out. I don't believe that anymore. There is a divine timetable for everything that I am to do, for every responsibility I have been given, and for everything that has to be accomplished in my life. It is to be accomplished in a spirit of having fun, being loving, and not being rushed. He did not put me here to knock myself out running around. He put me here to do His will and have some fun while I do it. Whenever I rush, I am not a loving person. I lose my spirit of love as soon as I hurry. When I start rushing to drive somewhere, I begin to curse the slowness of other drivers. Only when I am not in a hurry, do I have the courtesy to let other cars into my lane. I can practice our saying, "Easy Does It", if I also believe in God's divine timetable, especially when I am late. I might be late by human time, but right on time by divine time! God has ultimate authority and delegates His authority to me through the group conscience.'
Putting people on pedestals
'When I drank, I would put those who had authority on pedestals because I didn't see that they only had delegated authority from God. I treated such people as false gods. All other authority is delegated. I no longer need to fawn over those in authority or be fearful or jealous of them. I take the attitude of a servant and assist those in authority over me because God has placed them there and given them his authority to administer. Your authority is no longer a threat to me, but an opportunity for me to be of service to you in any way you call upon me. Helping you do God's will is a whole new view of authority I never had before.'
The nightly review
'The … final lesson of this Concept in my life is that it tells me what the subject of my nightly written inventory is supposed to be. Instead of nitpicking at my faults, this Concept has me examine how I am being of service with my sobriety and my other talents. Am I giving responsible service or not? Do I have a vision of myself that God does about my capabilities in handling the responsibilities he has given me? The Tenth Concept teaches me not to take inventory on how I shape up according to my vision of myself but to take inventory on God's vision of me: am I of service by accepting the responsibilities to carry the message that God gives me?'