Monday, 31 October 2016
How to practise these principles in all your affairs
Service in AA or in life doesn't just happen. If it is not planned, it won't happen, either because other opportunities will come up or because people do not spontaneously make an effort to serve God by serving others. In addition, because many diary items are scheduled way in advance, planning must take place on a longer-term basis and not just for the day, or you get to the day and there will be no room for service because other items have already filled the schedule.
There are seven areas of service: sponsorship, home group service, AA structure service, carrying the message to the outside world; service in the workplace, service in the home and with family (and by extension with friends), and service to the community and to society.
Sponsorship: time must be set aside to sponsor people. Determine what slots you will reserve. Then social and leisure items must be fitted around these slots. If you do not yet have sponsees, at least five meetings a week are necessary. This is in order to find sponsees to work with. Aim to get there early, help out with service at these meetings, get to know people, find out who is new or suffering, talk to them, exchange numbers, and befriend them, so that you can be in place to offer help if it is later asked for. Follow up with phone calls or texts to see how they are doing and to see if they want to meet up to go to a meeting. Share at the meeting about alcoholism, Steps, sponsorship, the Big Book, the Higher Power, and service, and then stay afterwards and go for fellowship. If you follow this outline, you will acquire sponsees. As the Big Book says, most of us spend much of our free time engaged in this type of work. That means you must spend much of your free time doing this, if you are to reap the benefits of the programme. Always know seven days ahead which meetings you are going to attend.
Home group service. Perform service at one, maybe at two groups per week at least. Always consider how the service should ideally be carried out. What actions would you need to take to best perform this service? What would a perfect GSR do? What would a perfect literature secretary do? Go beyond anything you have ever seen in terms of performing well. Be proactive, think ahead, and plan actions.
AA structure service: always have a role within the AA structure. As with home group service, envision with God's help what maxing out on performing this service would look like practically, in terms of effectiveness and efficiency. Plot what actions you would need to take to do this. Then plug these items into your schedule. Make sure you are fully familiar with all of the relevant AA service literature. Read and reread periodically.
Carrying the AA message to the outside world: this may be a service assignment within the AA structure, such as a liaison role, or a role at the AA telephone office talking to callers, etc. Maybe there is an AA meeting held in an institution. Maybe schools talks are available. Find out what roles are available and take one up. As with all other service, ask God and others how to max out in terms of time, effectiveness, and efficiency in performing these roles.
The other areas are far more varied (work, home, and society and community). In these areas, sit down with God and ask how you can maximise your service through these areas. Ask how you can be imaginative, proactive, and think ahead of yourself and others in envisioning how you could be maximum service and benefit to others or how you could fit yourself to be of maximum service and benefit to others.
How does this fit in with social and leisure activities? Obviously, to do lots of service, you will end up with less time for leisure and social activities, although lots of AA service is essentially a social activity, and if you are following God's will and filled with imagination, joy, and creativity because you are trying to invoke these characteristics and skills in performing service, there'll be little need for traditional, passive forms of leisure. The Big Book says, quite intuitively, that, amongst AAs who are really living this path, the things that seem to matter so much to other people don't matter so much to them anymore.
To summarise: envision with God how you can fit yourself to be of maximum service and then actually be of maximum service to God through service to others in all these areas, and then fill your schedule for the next month. Leisure and social activities can fit around the service. Not the other way round.
Why bother? This sounds like hard work.
I do it because:
(1) It is insurance against drinking.
(2) The activities need doing, and if those suitably positioned do not, who will?
(3) There is a moral obligation to give all one can, particularly within AA.
(4) The results are indescribably better than living a life based on self.