Service – it's the Little Things
"Service work can be anything from buying a cup of coffee for a prospect to serving as your area delegate to the World Service Conference and anything in between."
– Bill W
One of the greatest discoveries ever made by our founding fathers, Bill W and Dr Bob, was that service work is a cornerstone of a hopeless alcoholic’s recovery from alcoholism. They were both so amazed when they learnt this truth that they leapt into service work with both feet. In fact, they leapt into service work with such rigor that within just six years of their first meeting, AA had spread right across the United States.
When Bill and Bob started out with service work they were limited to just being able to work one-to-one with alcoholics, but as they grew ever more successful at this, and as AA spread across the States, another need arose and indeed another, just as important discovery, was made: just as effective as working with another alcoholic on a one-to-one basis was working with the AA group or the organisation as a whole, on a larger scale, in any one of the many service positions that arose as AA blossomed and flourished.
Many things in AA turn out to have multiple functions, it is one of the truly great aspects of our fellowship, and service work is no different. First off, it helps the recovering alcoholic maintain his sobriety by taking him out of uselessness and putting him into usefulness, secondly it helps the still-suffering alcoholic towards recovery by carrying the message to him, and last of all it helps to perpetuate AA itself.
Just like with Bill and Bob in the early days, my own experience with service work started out small but, within a short time, grew and grew. I started out cleaning up cigarette-ends like so many in our meeting, but soon progressed onto tea service and further up the service ladder. I aspire to one day hopefully serve my group and the still-suffering alcoholic at Intergroup, Region, and possibly even Conference. Why, some people may ask? Well, I think another quote from Bill W can answer that better than I ever could:
"AA is more than a set of principles; it is a society of alcoholics in action. We must carry the message, else we ourselves can wither and those who haven't been given the truth may die."
Jon D., Road to Recovery Group, Plymouth