Service: Constant Thought of Others
Service. It's not one of those words which I used to use on a regular basis, or understand. For me, service was something that I did on an infrequent basis to my motorbike. Service means more to me everyday now; I have learnt the other meaning of the word in Alcoholics Anonymous. My service career started when I walked through the doors of my first meeting. Right from the start I was encouraged to take an active, grass roots part in my home group. I started ‘to serve’ for Alcoholics Anonymous and put myself second for a change. It has taken me sometime to understand the concept of selfless commitment to a group. The practice of putting others' needs and wants before mine was a totally alien and seemingly ridiculous idea before I reached AA. In service, I am encouraged to think of others by positive action and not thought or word alone. This positive action can be anything from cleaning in my home group to serving on Intergroup or Region committees.
The change from selfish to selfless has not been obvious or definite. I am not claiming that I am a deeply spiritual man who is committed to acts of love and kindness, that would just be downright dishonest. I know what I am committed to though; I am committed to staying sober and happy, for sure. If I give myself to this simple program, then I become less selfish and self-seeking through service, as the very essence of serving is to discount my own wants, desires and needs. Then, as if my magic, my own wants, desires and needs are taken care of. That is the genuine paradox of Alcoholics Anonymous, the more I think of others, the more my own life improves. So, I have gradually realized through sometimes painful experience, that whatever the state of play is in my little life, service is the way forward.
One of the other many benefits of service is the confidence and sense of belonging that it instills in the alcoholic. When I was drinking, in a matter of seconds, I could swing from arrogant self-based confidence to total suicidal despair. I either felt elated or crushed. I also suffered from a sense of displacement and a lack of belonging in any given situation. What a cocktail for living! It was no wonder I turned to alcohol as a solution to these problems. The service structure of Alcoholic Anonymous has enabled me to become a useful member of society, rather than a loser and a waster.
As I said before, I am lucky to be in a home group which suggests that we all partake in some form of service. I came into AA without any confidence, substance or moral fibre. All the service positions I have taken on have encouraged me to work with others and become useful within a team of people. I was never a ‘team player’ before, it was always me against the world. It would not be an understatement to say that my AA service has been the making of me.
For me the Traditions and service are the strong glue which holds our fellowship together. As I stated before, I am privileged to be in a group which takes it service very seriously. If the men and women who have all served as shining examples to me had decided that they couldn’t be bothered with service, there is a strong possibility that my AA group would not be as attractive and active as it is today. With good leadership and role models, I have made the direct link between how I am feeling and what I am doing. If I carry on doing the right and honest thing within the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous, I know that every aspect of my life will carry on getting better.