service to others

From that ten-cent phone call and a cup of coffee to AA's General Service Office. What's your take on service?

service to others

Postby ann2 » Wed Jun 08, 2016 3:10 am

Hi I'm Ann and I'm an alcoholic. I am part of the e-AA group business meeting as well as the Online Intergroup assembly as one of its elected servants.

I've been involved with both these online entities for many years, and seen many different styles of service. What's flummoxed me lately is a style that refuses to follow established guidelines, accept advice and listen to democratic discussion because of this stated reason: "I'm doing the job, so it will be done the way I see fit." Not only that, there seems to be a strong tendency toward self-pity for taking on the job in the first place, and an expectation that others should agree to whatever the trusted servant does because they are beholden to this person for taking on the position.

I have lots of arguments for why it shouldn't be this way. Most of them are fairly well explained in our AA literature on service such as The A.A. Group . . . Where it all begins http://www.aa.org/assets/en_US/p-16_theaagroup.pdf and the A.A. Service Manual as well as other sources you can find on this page http://www.aa.org/pages/en_US/getting-i ... al-service

Sure, they're doing a job, but that doesn't mean that they're in charge. In fact, as we constantly tell each other, we're but trusted servants.

I see however certain expectations of privilege in people holding AA service positions, when in fact the job means pushing down ego and accepting that I don't get my way. Doing the work doesn't bring any more right to be heard than just being a member. On the contrary, it means less chance because our job is to make sure that others are heard.

I've heard the argument now from so many areas that it's starting to make me really sad. "You're lucky I'm here to do this job, don't you think I deserve to have my way?" "No one else wants to do this, so shut up and listen to me."

I've been lucky in having really good examples of service to follow. I needed their examples. I had a lot to learn. They told me where to find the guidance in the literature and they patiently explained the reasons for the way they behaved.

I don't think it's their fault, or mine either, that the word "service" is starting to mean "authority" and the description "trusted servant" is starting to mean "boss." I think it's, sadly, a natural progression, one noted in a quote attributed to François-René de Chateaubriand, a French writer, politician, diplomat, and historian who died in 1848:

“In the days of service all things are founded; in the days of special privilege they deteriorate; and in the days of vanity they are destroyed.”


I'm trying not to sound jaded but I don't have much control over my tone. What I'm talking about is the fact that I have experienced days of service, and seen wonderful things put in place, and now perhaps I'm seeing days of special privilege. After that, destruction?

Ann
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Re: service to others

Postby Brock » Wed Jun 08, 2016 12:23 pm

When I first came here and saw the title under certain members names “Trusted Servant,” it was one I didn't fully understand, I knew about coffee maker and treasurer etc, and that they were service positions, but not trusted servants. By reading the 'Twelve Concepts for World Service,' I came to understand further, Bill says in part that in some service positions, if we don't 'trust' the servant, they become no more than messengers, the bible also speaks in places about the principle.

It is my experience that in face to face AA many also don't understand fully, and believe that unless the servant has the group conscience permission no action may be taken on behalf of the group. At my home group we once discussed a need for a wall clock, I was treasurer at the time, and by coincidence some weeks later came across a sale on wall clocks at half price, I bought one and at the next meeting everyone said nice clock, but a couple said you had no right to buy it without the group agreeing on the price. After an old timer gave his opinion, they came to agree that servants must have room to use initiative.

In the recommended pamphlet “The AA Group Where It All Begins,” my experience is that groups sometimes fall short on this suggestion -
Placing principles before personalities, the membership is wary of dominant opinions.

Too often those who should be content to act as 'elder statesmen,' exert influence over group decisions, their opinion becomes dominant immediately they vote one way or the other on an idea. If a group conscience consists of members relatively young in AA years and experience, but with one member who boasts of years of service and experience, naturally the others would give that persons opinion a bit more weight. Knowing this the sensible elder statesman may hold their vote for last, or even abstain. I have had the experience of proposing an idea, and having the elder statesman act like a bleeding deacon and say it was crap before anyone else could even vote, not surprisingly effectively killing the proposal, I voted with my feet after that.

The same pamphlet speaks about the importance of rotation - “Traditionally, rotation ensures that group tasks, like nearly everything else in A.A., are passed around for all to share.” Here and in many AA publications the importance of rotation is discussed, too many who hold on to service in certain groups become what in AA is referred to as “bleeding deacons.” I read once that this name was adapted from a very old term used to describe an old goat in a pulpit, and it was originally called “bleating deacon.” They tend to be the ones why cry down new ideas, and pass judgment on others, the Grapevine once had a series of articles called bleating deacons.
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Re: service to others

Postby Patsy© » Tue Jun 14, 2016 6:16 am

I have had the experience of proposing an idea, and having the elder statesman act like a bleeding deacon and say it was crap before anyone else could even vote, not surprisingly effectively killing the proposal, I voted with my feet after that.


That is a shame that no vote was taken, because any idea that is ultimately decided on by one AA member, effectively speaks for the entire AA group. And we know that an Informed AA Group Conscience is the only deciding factor in any AA group.

Tradition Two
“For our group purpose there is but one ultimate
authority—a loving God as He may express
Himself in our group conscience. Our leaders
are but trusted servants; they do not govern.”


Rotation of Service Positions have a vital importance, they keep any one person from thinking they "Own" the AA Group and therefore they get to call the shots...which we know isn't possible, no matter how long one has held a position or has been a member of any particular AA Group. The AA group has one ultimate authority, a Loving God as He may express Himself in OUR Group Conscience.

To replace an Informed AA group conscience vote....with Controlling behaviors... is sad and destructive for an AA group.
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Re: service to others

Postby positrac » Tue Jun 14, 2016 8:03 am

On F2F meetings and actual home groups I have been part of over the years is that I've learned a few hard knocks regarding personalities over principles. I give of myself as if I were the only one and so if I make coffee it is made and I have enough to go around, ashtrays back when smoking was allowed were cleaned and the trash was taken out toilets clean and grass is cut. I took those jobs selfless and I learned that we are being used of sorts and yet in order for a group to survive we have to help and rotate the members in order to prevent burnout.

I did the jobs no one wanted because I can achieve them as I see fit and if I were the treasurer I have to ensure people aren't dipping into the till. To much responsibility for me and so I opt to stand back and watch the nats as the camels pass by.

So if I give of myself it is because I felt the need to give and when I get tired of it I quit and for me being overly charged and driven may make me worse and less humble and I resent it in the end and that is not the purpose of service. Of course each to their own; but I've learned to take it n stride because it is not worth having rent free materials in my head over things I have no control over.
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Re: service to others

Postby PaigeB » Tue Jun 14, 2016 10:43 am

Last night I took the key to my Home Group. Each Group varies on how they work with the facility who owns the property and the church where we meet does not wish lots of changes, preferring a sobriety time of at least one year and having a 2 year rotation. It is voluntary and not voted on within the group. There are 2 keys and 2 key holders. I practically live in the backyard of the church so I raised my hand and took the key. It is between the 2 key holders how they will manage opening and closing. Last night we also gained an alternate to call if either or both key holders will be unable to perform their duties. I previously rotated out of this position about 4 years ago.

Also, group and District elections are coming. I was PI Chair at District 2 years ago, 1 rotation. My sponsor says I cannot stand for that position after only one rotation and that someone will step up. Oohhhh ~ both myself and the current Chair have been on this committee since we got sober - him by like a couple months! We both have fear as to what will happen to our work over the last 4 years when some previously uninterested soul takes the Chair. Seems we will have to have some humility and faith!

As an aside (hint hint) I rotate out of the Forums Coordinator position in September. Here is the link to the Op Docs, describing the positions at e-aa. The larger Group has a 12 Step Coordinator Position open... I think elections are coming in September!
Check it out at http://www.e-aa.org/group_guidelines.php
Please speak to your sponsors about taking on this service commitment! I check in 1-3 times a day. I would not be on here right now if my son was not computer savvy - - he had to tether my mobile phone's 4G to my PC! Internet, phone & TV have been down over 12 hours now. No idea when they will be back up. I am glad I have a TEAM of Trusted Servants here to keep things in order, however they see fit, in my absence if this continues.

I Trust them to Serve you, because I know each of them has an HP whom they also Serve. :wink:
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Re: service to others

Postby Patsy© » Tue Jun 14, 2016 12:28 pm

Last night I took the key to my Home Group. Each Group varies on how they work with the facility who owns the property and the church where we meet does not wish lots of changes, preferring a sobriety time of at least one year and having a 2 year rotation. It is voluntary and not voted on within the group. There are 2 keys and 2 key holders.



Hi Paige,

Any AA member in the AA group can call for an AA Group Conscience, anytime. In the AA group, there ought never be one person saying someone can or can't put forth an idea. That is for the AA group to decide, through a Group Conscience whenever one is requested.

In my experience, I have never heard of an AA group being allied with the facility or the owner of the property. The church is the landlord and the AA group is the tenant. Renting the space from the Church, doesn't mean that the church has anything to do or say about how the AA group is run. Its none of the Churches business, unless there is something written in the rental agreement that the AA group is breaking, such as cigarette butts, trash in the room, and such.... much the same as any other rental agreement, its a legal binding agreement between the landlord and the tenant.

The Church does not get to say how long sober someone must be or the length of the rotation time.... that is the AA groups business to be voted on and not the churches.

An A.A. group can bind itself to no one.

Once the rental agreement between the church and AA group goes into effect on the rental date, the keys are turned over to whoever the AA group's Treasurer, Secretary or volunteer is. And then its up to the AA group to make sure that the doors are open, who gets the keys, how much sober time they need and when the keys will change hands. Usually this take place at an AA business meeting, voting, no voting or just asking for volunteers who meet the requirements for taking the keys to that AA group.
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Re: service to others

Postby D'oh » Tue Jun 14, 2016 8:12 pm

Thank You Ann for bringing the exact thing that has been rolling around in my head for sometime.

How the 2nd Tradition fits into an online Forum. How a Group Conscience and be enacted, How can it be called, How a few can control the Common Welfare of so many? And also how to bring it up in the first place?

Not that I am looking to miss the Beauty of the Woods, for the differences of some of it's trees.
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Re: service to others

Postby D'oh » Tue Jun 14, 2016 8:19 pm

The Church does not get to say how long sober someone must be or the length of the rotation time.... that is the AA groups business to be voted on and not the churches.


The Church, Gym, Office. Can put what ever "Terms" it wants in the lease of it's facility's. They have No Affiliation with the Program of AA other than renting them a spot to meet. It would be no different than saying that any Moose Group member must be a Full Charter Member before they are trusted with the key.

Just as "We cannot accept a Free Meeting Place" just because the Lessor wants to help out, or wants AA to grace their premises. But that a whole nother Tradition.
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Re: service to others

Postby Patsy© » Tue Jun 14, 2016 9:35 pm

D'oh wrote:
The Church does not get to say how long sober someone must be or the length of the rotation time.... that is the AA groups business to be voted on and not the churches.


The Church, Gym, Office. Can put what ever "Terms" it wants in the lease of it's facility's. They have No Affiliation with the Program of AA other than renting them a spot to meet. It would be no different than saying that any Moose Group member must be a Full Charter Member before they are trusted with the key.

Just as "We cannot accept a Free Meeting Place" just because the Lessor wants to help out, or wants AA to grace their premises. But that a whole nother Tradition.



Not true, the landlord can put terms on the rental space itself, but NEVER can the landlord dictate to an AA group through any terms in the rental agreement regarding what the length of sobriety has to be for any AA member or the rotation time to give up the key. The AA group has one ultimate authority when it comes to an informed Group Conscience ..... and its not the landlord!

Each AA group determines the minimum length of sobriety for A.A. members to be eligible for any position or office and that includes the rotation and key. The general guideline might be stable sobriety of six months to a year, or longer.

And actually, an AA group can have a financially free meeting place, they can exchange things like mowing the lawn or trimming the bushes in exchange for the space where the AA Group will hold their meeting.
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Re: service to others

Postby PaigeB » Wed Jun 15, 2016 12:24 am

Maybe that was just something the group decided... about sobriety time. The CHURCH said "here is our 2 keys. Here is a form to fill out, letting us know who has what key and their contact information." I think after some trial and error the GC discussed the church's wish that one person hold the key for a period of time so as not to be changing all the time and that is when oral agreements were made.

We have been at that same meeting site for 20 years. It is all good - no dictation and no affiliation. :wink:

I have only been there for 6+ but I trust those who went before me.
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Re: service to others

Postby positrac » Wed Jun 15, 2016 2:23 am

PaigeB wrote:Maybe that was just something the group decided... about sobriety time. The CHURCH said "here is our 2 keys. Here is a form to fill out, letting us know who has what key and their contact information." I think after some trial and error the GC discussed the church's wish that one person hold the key for a period of time so as not to be changing all the time and that is when oral agreements were made.

We have been at that same meeting site for 20 years. It is all good - no dictation and no affiliation. :wink:

I have only been there for 6+ but I trust those who went before me.

Paige,
You are a true inspiration because of your ability to provide time to give back to others. I wasn't bagging the terms of service as much as the point of in any group or club a select few do all of the bull work. I find that if I do it for no purpose then I have no resentments if I get walked on and I can over look it for a while.

The best service work I did was I had two home groups (BB/12X12) and I took meetings into a local 28 detox facility for 1 year. It was New years eve and I showed up to the facility and the group was taken back because I should be out living it up.... It was for them and not me and I said they helped me stay sober with my commitment every week.

Paige you are good source for recovery and I hope others in your area want what you have to offer.
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Re: service to others

Postby Patsy© » Wed Jun 15, 2016 3:54 am

You are a true inspiration because of your ability to provide time to give back to others.

I absolutely agree with the above from positrac, you are obviously one of this sites best!


Maybe that was just something the group decided... about sobriety time. The CHURCH said "here is our 2 keys. Here is a form to fill out, letting us know who has what key and their contact information."

Paige, when I shared "Not true", it was in no way meant for you. The above is the way a rental agreement is from the Landlord, the Tenant fills out the forms from the Landlord with the contact info for those who actually have possession of the keys and then hands over the keys.
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Re: service to others

Postby PaigeB » Wed Jun 15, 2016 7:24 am

Thanks! You Peeps mean a lot to me! Many, many days my commitment here has kept me sober. It is the same in my face to face commitments. I am looking forward to being coffee maker and have had several people raise hands to help arrange tables and chairs, so I won't be there alone. There will be good Fellowship along with good coffee! :wink:
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Re: service to others

Postby Timotheus » Wed Jun 15, 2016 5:39 pm

Paige, your service really does mean a lot here and thank you. I hope when you rotate out in a few months you stay as active in your posts- you inspire me often!

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Re: service to others

Postby D'oh » Wed Jun 15, 2016 7:38 pm

I give a Big Thumbs Up and Thanks to Paige and All of the Moderators. It would be a very hard position, with some rewards but far out weighed by Trying times I am sure.

As for Meeting Rooms, that is one place that is "Outside" of the 12 Traditions. All that the Group Conscience can do is follow them the best that can be done.

I have sat through 3 hours of discussion over a Meeting place, at a District Committee Meeting. Viewing all angles of this very topic, in a room of people that don't always agree, but Have to come to a common solution. Not always an easy feat.

As for Meeting Places, I have found that the person handing over the Keys, always will have some Terms and Conditions. These don't always follow the 12 Traditions (seldom even close). 1 or more Members have to break their own Anonymity, to say the least. Usually the ones responsible for the Keys and meeting the Terms and Conditions of the lease.

The case in question at the District Meeting was that the Sally Anne, approached some members wanting to help and wanting to have Meetings in their Church. If their name could be attached to the Meeting's Name. Also at No Charge or a Sub Vented Rate.

Throw all of that out in a room full of "Trusted Servants" and see how many Traditions are affected.
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