Secret about service

From that ten-cent phone call and a cup of coffee to AA's General Service Office. What's your take on service?
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ann2
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Secret about service

Post by ann2 » Sun May 31, 2009 4:32 am

Everybody says, "Get into service. Service will help you in your sobriety." We imagine the joy of accomplishing needed tasks, the acclaim that follow our efforts, the comradeship of teamwork. Naturally, this is what they're talking about when our sponsors and old-timers encourage us to serve in a group, right?

Well, there's a secret about service in AA. And it's the reason that so many positions are filled at the last minute or not at all, that a few people do seem to keep doing everything, that resentments rise up and flourish in groups.

The secret is, service is time-consuming, exacting and exhausting work that often goes unnoticed. If it is noticed, more often than not there's some kind of complaint involved. And even when things get done, there's problems working together with others who are in service. Personalities clash, disagreements arise and, amazingly enough in alcoholics, don't get handled to everyone's satisfaction.

We all in service know this frustration and lack of appreciation. So why do we continue to encourage others to join us? Is it because we're both masochists and sadists? Do we just want to share the misery?

NO -- we're very serious and sincere. Service helps my sobriety immensely. In becoming involved, risking being heard, doing things I don't want to do, making unrecognized contributions, I have learned so much more about my higher power and myself. I have grown spiritually through doing things that scare me or plague me.

I've learned that I can sacrifice my feeling of how things should go in order to serve the group. I have followed the secretary's direction despite my contrary nature. I have kept my mouth shut when others claim credit for my pet projects. And it's not a teeth-clenching sacrifice -- I am honestly grateful for these situations.

I have been shown chances to put my will second to something greater than me, and the internal rewards have been well worth it.

And I am truly grateful for the people who either rub me the wrong way or go out of their way to put me down. There's so much good for me personally that has come out of these contacts, in every example.

It's another paradox of AA, perhaps. But it works for this alcoholic.
"If I don't take twenty walks, Billy Beane send me to Mexico" -- Miguel Tejada

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Post by jak » Sun May 31, 2009 8:29 am

Thaks Ann,

I agree. Being of service in AA and accepting a task and then following it through to completion, has been developmental for me in a number of ways.

I was undisciplined with my personal finances and taking the task of being the treasurer for my group (where the watchful eyes kept me honest) helped me develop skills in my own budgeting.

As a secretary for the District committee I built communication skills and eventually became able to pluck out words on the keyboard. (My first reports were all longhand and a bit scribbled)

Hearing complaints about the job I had done in AA service helped me to strive to overcome emotional over-reactions to the critisism and return to the task that I had agreed to do. If I was elected to a two year term, I could not quit early just because I 'felt' bad about the complaints.

I learned to take my inventory and if the critic was right or wrong I could learn from it and go on. This helped me 'out there in the world' when people at home or at work complained. I had some practice in dealing with critisisms.

I also learned that IF I wanted to be critical of someone else, I had better be prepared to put up or shut up. The quickest way to get an AA job is to Expletive about how someone else is doing it.

jim k

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Post by trent » Wed Jun 03, 2009 7:36 pm

Thanks for the post makes me think. I have been avoiding any type of service at any level for the last couple years. Not I did not get a lot out of doing general service, I did. I learned lots about working with others, and setting aside my own agenda, and the biggest of all was patience with others. Probably helped me develope some thicker skin to!!!!

I don't know though - at least getting into general service, even at the group level, can be quite a ride. I have a lot of mixed feelings about it. Sometimes things, the way they went, could gettirather discouraging, but other times it worked beautifully. I don't know if that type of service is best for everyone.

But fortunatly there are many ways to do service in AA.

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LetgoJoe
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Post by LetgoJoe » Wed Jun 03, 2009 9:29 pm

I have liked that I rarely picked my jobs, I was recommended. I had no desire to be treasuer or secretary or chairperson - but I happened to be at the business meetings when they were having elections and I was elected into them. I too learned much from them. I have to admit, that my favorite service work position is opening up. The hands on direct feel of it I guess. I too learned a lot from the complaints and how to deal with them in stride. Nothing like a room full of alcoholics, that get a serving of weak coffee! The discussion topic usually turns to dealing with resentments. :D

In relation to the more staff oriented jobs, it seemed that one of the things that helped most was trying to certainly be responsible but keep it simple. There is something to be said about how the next person has to follow the act of the person that has, by there example, created an over whelming amount of work for the next guy or gal. AKA "a hard act to follow." ~Joe
Honesty gets us sober, tolerance keeps us sober. ~Bill W.

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Ken_the_Geordie
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Post by Ken_the_Geordie » Sun Jun 07, 2009 2:50 am

LetgoJoe wrote:Nothing like a room full of alcoholics, that get a serving of weak coffee! The discussion topic usually turns to dealing with resentments. :D
Joe
Oh, yes!

I do the tea and coffee for my home group; I ended up with the job on my SECOND AA MEETING (though I admit I volunteered, but I never tell the story like that)!

I don't mind, but there's some fussy people in my group. One likes the milk put in her tea before the hot water, another likes the same with coffee. Three of them like defcaffe coffee and one likes decaffe tea!

And then there's two of them who insist on having 'their cups', which winds me up also. Oh, and it's got to be semi-skimmed milk I buy; not full fat; so I've been informed!

But I bet when they were drinking, they would have drank spilt alcohol soaked up and wrung out of an old dish cloth! (I would've; I think I have actually (but that's vague)).

So when I get it wrong, as I invariably do, and they complain I always threaten to put them on my Step 4 resentment inventory.

:D

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LetgoJoe
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Post by LetgoJoe » Wed Jun 17, 2009 7:47 pm

But I bet when they were drinking, they would have drank spilt alcohol soaked up and wrung out of an old dish cloth!

Good stuff Ken. Thanks for the laugh. I needed that uplift :lol: ~Joe
Honesty gets us sober, tolerance keeps us sober. ~Bill W.

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Re:

Post by Steven F » Fri Feb 05, 2010 10:19 am

Ken_the_Geordie wrote:(I would've; I think I have actually (but that's vague)
Shoot - now I have to go sit with this to see if I just had a laugh out of that, or if it is really a memory 8) .

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Ken_the_Geordie
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Re: Secret about service

Post by Ken_the_Geordie » Sun Feb 07, 2010 3:10 am

Thanks Steven for resurrecting an excellent post of Anns. Well since the coffee, at another group I was asked to be the chair person (I was second choice; the 1st person did not want to do the job), so I make coffee on a Thursday and chair the other group on a Tuesday. Sometimes, I find service a bind, in that I've got to be there to perform my duties; no missing the odd meeting for me because there's two-foot of snow on the roads, or its chucking down with rain; but mostly I get great satisfaction from trying to do either job to the best of my ability.

Personally, out of both jobs, I really do prefer the coffee. Its a friendly job and I can 'mother' some of the members by running after them with tea and biscuits; its fun.

Some of the guys are trying to encourage me to go to the intergroup meeting (I think that's what its called; the next level up) to look at doing some service there, but I think I prefer service at 'unit level' if you know what I mean.

For me, maybe its because I'm an ex-serviceman, but I found performing service a great way of integrating into my homegroups (I've got two) and feeling part of the 'team' and AA. Has it helped keep me sober? You know, on reflection I think it has. You do get a great feeling when you help others, so it must've contributed somewhat towards the maintenance of my spirituality.

I do sometimes like just turning up to a meeting though, not having a job, just drink some coffee and chat; but it makes those meetings more special because of the service I do at others.
I'm more commonly known as Tosh (it's a nick name, but everyone I know in real life calls me it); just in case there's any confusion; I tend to use Tosh or Ken interchangeably and it confuses some; including me. ;-)

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