Self-Service/service keeps you sober

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Self-Service/service keeps you sober

Postby Karl R » Wed Sep 16, 2009 5:36 am

This on service from the Grapevine Digital Archives. June 1986 vol. 43 no. 6
Copyright © The AA Grapevine, Inc. (June 1986 vol 43 no 1 ). Reprinted with permission.

I've been rolling the idea of "service keeps you sober" around in my small pea brain lately. AA slogans seem to be slippery things-and this one seems more vague then most. I can't get past the idea that sobriety through the working of the 12 steps of alcoholics anonymous and our HP keeps us sober. Service, although important, is but a small part of that. I would welcome all observations on that.....

As to the second slogan in this little article..."people in service don't drink"
I can refer to my experience in my local world. I know a few people who are under the impression that they are in service who are drinking. Hmmm?

Give freely of what you find here....this seems to be the best of the openers in this little article.



"Service keeps you sober." "People in service don't drink." "Give freely of what you find here."

I heard these statements made at meetings quite frequently when I was a newcomer to AA. But my own initial motives for getting involved in service at the ripe old age of six weeks sober were not entirely as honest as these.

Several old-timers repeatedly commented on how well I was doing in the program, staying sober and going to meetings. In fact, one referred to me as "a little Cinderella." I had a desire to please these people, so when a coffeemaker job opened up, I volunteered to show them how really well I was doing. That I was dying inside because I had no idea how to cope with living problems sober was of no consequence; my motive was to "do well" and please my new friends. This job kept me sober for six months, and in that time I acquired a sponsor and began to work the Steps because people said to do these things, and I certainly wanted to "do well."

I then became secretary of the group, and my motive for accepting this job was to look good sitting at the head table and let people see how well I was doing for six months, and by the end of my term, I had over a year of sobriety. Wasn't I doing well?

By this time, however, something in me had changed: I had a desire to stop drinking--something I hadn't had when I first got to AA. Previously I had only had a desire to not get drunk. If I could have returned to social drinking, I would have. But I had stuck around AA for the praise and the pats on the back I was getting, and to prove I could do this program well.

And it was for these reasons that I continued to take on other service commitments, such as institutions work and telephone service. I gave lots of people rides to and from meetings. See how well I'm doing? I was just as described in chapter six of the Big Book: wanting to enjoy a certain reputation, but knowing in my heart I didn't deserve it.

At two years sober, I stood at a turning point. I saw I could no longer maintain my sense of wellness through the praise and admiration of others. My self-esteem could not come from you; it had to come from within. It was time to take a good look at myself and my motives. Through the wisdom and guidance of a woman with many years of sobriety and service work, I was able to see how my self-centered, prideful motives had helped me to stay sober for nearly two years. I had done one thing well--I had stayed away from that first drink, regardless of the motive behind it. I realized I truly was grateful to be sober, and I owed this gratitude to God and the people of Alcoholics Anonymous. I began to feel that I honestly wanted to try to repay that debt.

And so today I can see the truth and wisdom in the statements made at the beginning of this article. If you have any doubt about their validity, try them for yourself, regardless of your motives. My selfish motives got me into action in AA. Action in AA kept me sober. Through service, I found gratitude for sobriety. Through gratitude, today I make myself available whenever possible to do service for Alcoholics Anonymous. Today I am not concerned with how well I'm doing in AA; I am only sincerely grateful not to have to take a drink. I have done that well today, and I am ever aware that the credit for anything I do well today goes to my Higher Power, and to you of Alcoholics Anonymous.

L. B.
San Francisco, California
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Karl R
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