Being a Secretary
I was just over 18 months sober when the group (at one of the 2 conscience meeting that take place each year) voted me into the role of Friday secretary. Like most people who find themselves in such a position, I was excited at the prospect of serving the group in such a vital role, and felt deeply that to have been trusted to do so was a real privilege. But I also felt nerves and some serious trepidation: What if I was crap at it? What if I bumbled the readings? What if I forgot something vital in the set-up? What if I failed to select sharers from the floor in an effective manner in accordance with the guidelines?
I expressed my concerns to my sponsor and he offered me some helpful advice: ‘Remember’, he said, ‘The group would not have voted for you if they did not have confidence in your ability – you have their full backing and nothing to fear.’ ‘ Trust in your higher power and pray that you be relieved from self-centred fear, then take the necessary actions to ensure that you are well prepared to undertake this service’.
Here are some of the things I did: I read the service guideline (including the secretaries interventions) and the various readings everyday in the build up to my first meeting, and regularly throughout my term in office. I spent time with both the GSR and the outgoing secretary, picking their brains about the job and making sure I had everything clear in my mind. I wrote a short checklist of things that need to be done before the meeting opens and after in closes and went through it each day – once I got started I did not find it necessary to use the list, but making it helped me commit everything to memory.
The GSR and my sponsor both helped a great deal. They reminded me that I needed to take responsibility for the meeting, in its entirety. All that takes place from the opening of the doors to the time they are locked is the secretary’s responsibility. Sure, the GSR is on hand to oversee things and deal with certain aspects of service, but they have enough to be doing without having to run around checking that every operational aspect of each meeting is running smoothly. The prompt opening and closing of the tea hatch, the standard of the cleaning, the lay-out of the chairs… although people have these specific jobs, ultimately it is the responsibility of the secretary to ensure they are carried out. Similarly, it is the secretaries Job to ensure that all speakers (especially guests) understand the format of the meeting, the do’s and don’ts of using the lectern and mic, and are well looked after.
It seems that it is often ‘share selection’ that puts the wind up new secretaries and concerns them the most. The fact is, that this is only one aspect of the job, albeit an important one. My experience is that by following the guidelines you won’t go far wrong, and seeking guidance from the GSR helps. Ultimately, I felt that it was my responsibility to ensure that the newcomer who entered the room on any given Friday, got the best possible RTR experience. This involved ensuring that they heard a diverse and dynamic range of enthusiastic and solution based shares, from oldtimers and newer members alike. At times, this meant pissing people off – people who felt they should have got in to share but didn’t. This will, to an extent, always be the case, and it doesn’t really matter – we all have Step 10. Besides, if the secretary does get it wrong, or is failing to pick someone for a unacceptable period (and there is never any malicious intent), they’ll be told to sort it out… simple as that.