Just what is this AA “service” that we hear talked about and why is it so important? First of all, the word service is on one side of the AA medallion triangle. The other two sides say unity and recovery. Being of service in the 12-step program means helping another alcoholic or addict to achieve sobriety. Just how does this come about?
Well, the first thing is to sponsor another person. Just what does a sponsor do? Well, their main task Is to take someone through the steps. This means that the sponsor has taken the steps and has a working knowledge of the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous. It also helps if they have some sober time under their belt. It can be said that when the teacher is ready, the student will arrive.
There is no designated time indicated in the Big Book to begin sponsoring someone. In 1935 when the program was formulated everyone began sponsoring as soon as they had completed the steps. There weren’t many sponsors available as the program was just beginning to flourish. So, they had to make do with what they had to work with. Today that is not the case. We now have thousands of sober people with substantial time in the program who are more than capable of sponsoring and guiding the newcomer into sobriety.
Service takes many forms. It can be to secretary a meeting. This is the person who opens and closes the meetings. They usually pick a leader for the meeting and collect the 7th tradition. They are basically responsible for making sure that the meeting occurs. They attend the board meeting for the AA group as a whole. They make sure that there is a “coffee person” at the meeting. This is another very important position in an AA group. Don’t mess with their coffee! Another form of service is “literature person.” This person makes sure there is AA literature and meeting directories available to whoever needs it but, especially for the newcomer.
Being of service can be to help set up and then take down chairs and other items when the meeting is over. Wiping off tables, cleaning up the coffee area and taking out the trash are also very important tasks that are done in the name of service. Service can be giving people rides to meetings if you are so situated. Speaking on panels in an outside facility is also a great way to be of service.
Why do sober members of AA do these things? Well, it can be said that it is the way to maintain, what we obtained, as a free gift. When we finally surrendered to our alcoholism and went to a meeting they were waiting and ready for us! Now it is our turn to do the same for the next poor soul that comes to a meeting. The Big Book says that we have to give it away in order to keep it.