In the chapter, We Agnostics, we’ve all read about the bedevilments. I was reading that passage again recently with a new sponsee that I’m taking through the Steps and one of the eight (8) bedevilments listed, “we couldn’t seem to be of real help to other people,” really stood out to me. I was reminded of just how selfish and self-centered I had been before taking the Steps and having had my spiritual awakening.
This idea of serving came to the forefront and days after I sat down with that sponsee, the idea of a servants heart came to my mind. I’ve heard that phrase many times before coming to the Fellowship (and many times after). In thinking about writing this, I sat down and looked up the definition of what it means to serve. One dictionary definition says that to serve is to “perform duties or services for another person or an organization.” That seemed pretty simple in terms, but it wasn’t until I did some more research and found that serving is the ultimate expression of love – did it really begin to take hold of me. People who do service know how much joy they receive from giving to others. The more inner work we do to fill ourselves with love, the more our heart overflows to the point where we may feel compelled to help others. Doing service is simply a matter of discovering your passion and then offering your time and love.
Alright! Now, we’re getting down to the meat of it all. I was taught many years ago about the concept of servant leadership. Servant leadership has 10 important characteristics: listening, empathy, healing, awareness, persuasion, conceptualization, foresight, stewardship, commitment to the growth of people, and building community. This may have been the first time that I really began to sit down and analyze the idea of service and what it can mean to me and others.
After being reminded of that, I was reminded of one of Bill W.’s most prolific writings where in April 1959, he wrote a beautiful article to the Grapevine titled, “Leadership in A.A. – Ever a Vital Need.” In that writing he shared the following:
“While this article was first thought of in connection with our world service leadership, it is quite possible that many of its suggestions can be useful to everyone who takes an active part in our Society. Nowhere could this be more true than in the area of Twelfth Step work itself – something at which nearly all of us most eagerly work. Every sponsor is necessarily a leader. The stakes are huge. A human life, and usually the happiness of a whole family, hangs in the balance. What the sponsor does and says, how well he estimates the reactions of his prospects, how well he times and makes his presentation, how well he handles criticisms, and how well he leads his prospect on by personal spiritual example – well, these attributes of leadership can make all the difference, often the difference between life and death.”
Serving the still suffering alcoholic through sponsorship; serving the A.A. Fellowship through group service; serving in the A.A. General Service structure; each of these things are an act of love. People in my A.A. network have heard me say many times that “we are in the life saving business.” Now, don’t for one moment think that I believe I have the power to change people lives in and of myself – that’s not what I am saying. I do believe, however, that through my willingness to share my experience, strength, and hope of what a spiritual experience (personality change) can do – does.
I make every effort to approach my service to the Fellowship from a place of love AND from a place of responsibility. The love I share as a result of the relationship I have with a God of my understanding can change lives. The privilege I’ve been given in various Areas in the General Service Structure come with a great responsibility (and that too, can change lives). The farther I go down the inverted triangle, the more I realize the wider implications of the service I’m performing. I continue to be reminded that each service opportunity I’m given is an opportunity to show love. I have to remember it’s not about me – it’s about the love I have through the service I give.
The Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous gave me a new life. There were many people with servants hearts who took the time to share with me our life saving message. There were many people with servants hearts who took the time to share with me how to help make Twelfth Step work possible through participation in the General Service Structure.
I will be forever grateful to them and I believe it’s my responsibility to allow God to nurture MY servants heart using THEIR power of example so that I can be an expression of God’s love here on this Earth.
Do You Have a Servants Heart?