Our common welfare should come first;
personal recovery depends upon ACA unity.
For our Group purpose there is but one ultimate authority - a loving Higher Power as expressed to our group conscience.
Our leaders are but trusted servants, they do not govern.
Each group is autonomous, except in matters affecting other groups or ACA as a whole.
Every ACA Group ought to be fully self-supporting declining outside contributions
Each of us has a talent to share or an opportunity to give of ourselves. When we do, we grow in our recovery even more.
We all know that none of us can “do it all”. We each depend on meetings being there when we need one. The ACA Fellowship relies on a continually changing array of volunteers to do service work. Consider the consequences if no one was willing to be of service or if only a few members did all the work. Experience has shown that ACA would cease to exist or a handful of people with their own agendas would be in charge again leading to the demise of ACA in its true form.
Our service work is a crucial part of our group being fully self-supporting. We may think Tradition Seven refers to financial resources only; more importantly it includes our talents, ideas, abilities, time and care. Regular rotation of service positions gives every member the chance to participate ensuring that recovery continues to be available for ourselves and for those who will follow after.
Here are a few examples of service work for our Fellowship:
Opening the room for the meeting - Setting up and putting away chairs.
Greeting newcomers – answering their questions between meetings.
Ordering literature, washing up cups.
Sponsoring and being sponsored.
Sharing in meetings and listening without judgement to others.
Studying and practicing the Traditions – speaking up to support them.
Organizing social activities.
Volunteering at National level – being a group rep, responding to email inquiries, helping with public info or updating websites.
When ACA members join together to create a meeting or group, it is important that everyone is an equal participant with equal say, and that the responsibility for that group is shared by all – no one person does too much or too little (at least not for long!)
Tradition Two reminds us that a loving Higher Power is greater than the individual, group or trusted servant. This Tradition allows us to experience humility by recognizing where our direction comes from. This Tradition points out that no one person leads the group, makes plans for the group, decides what is done with the group’s funds or provides answers for the group.
Tradition Four teaches us that sharing our experience, strength and hope at the meeting level and in our service work is a positive example of how our autonomous actions contribute to the well-being of ACA. When doing service, we speak and act on behalf of those we serve. In meetings we do our best to remember the worldwide Fellowship of Adult Children of Alcoholics and hold in our hearts the reality that we are part of this greater whole.
BEING FIRST DOING SECOND
Being of service is important to ACA and to our individual recovery, not what we are doing in service. All service positions at all levels have equal value. As we acknowledge our individual responsibility to the ACA meeting or group, we also acknowledge that we are a group, with responsibilities of being self supporting. For instance, if there are not enough volunteers to produce a ACA community newsletter, we stop publishing it. If no one volunteers to make coffee, there is no coffee.
Codependence: “If I don’t do it, it won’t get done right. - The entire burden is on again.”
Service: “I am doing my part within the group, as each person is doing her / his part. God is in charge, not me.”
We may feel moved to do some kind of ACA service and yet feel resistant at the same time. Perhaps the first solution is to ask the Higher Power of our own understanding for guidance so that the way we approach service is right for each of us as individuals. If we choose to view being of service in a new way, we might see it as an opportunity to transform our thinking about helping, about giving, and about doing. We can also talk to other members about their experience.
Questions some ACA members have found helpful –
Am I waiting to have more recovery before I give service?
Am I avoiding service because I think I have to do it perfectly?
Am I avoiding service in order to isolate from my group?
Am I willing to do my part and let go of results?
Service work allows us opportunities to practice setting boundaries, working with and accepting others and developing healthy and loving relationships with others in recovery.
It helps us to become more sensitive to differences between care-giving and care-taking, responding and reacting, becoming a human being versus a human-doing.
Being of service is a practical demonstration that we are part of the group
It teaches us to take responsibility for our own needs
It gives us a chance to practice our recovery with people who support us.
It gives us an opportunity to face our character defects: things like perfectionism, the need to control, the need to “care-take” and our feelings of fear and shame
It might be the way we learn to delegate, to let go, and still be responsible for our commitment
It can become a mirror that reflects which areas of ourselves may need refinement or change.
We learn the joy of working and growing together with a common goal.
HEALTHY GIVING & HEALTHY RELIANCE
Before we participate, it helps for us to understand our expectations, weaknesses and strengths. It is helpful to have an idea of how long to stay involved in one area of service. Most groups and service committees have maximum terms in any one position to keep the group healthy. Service work in ACA enables us to put the spiritual guidelines of the Twelve Steps and Traditions into practice. It embraces a healthy spirit of giving and enables our meeting to exist. Through service work, we acknowledge and esteem every person and their recovery, talents and abilities.
When each of us contributes just a little to service work, we can accomplish so much together. We enhance our recovery to practice loving and healthy behaviors with those we join in service. We see the benefits of healthy reliance upon one another, learning to trust each other and accept our differences and similarities. We come to recognize that each of us has a purpose and path, all deserving of love and respect.
Service work is both a gift and a responsibility. It’s not a fix, penance or an arena for control. It’s our way of passing on to others what has been given to us. If each of us offers a small contribution of our time and talent to service in ACA, the needs of ACA will surely be met and ACA will continue to grow.
THOUGHTS & QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION
- Am I doing more than I want to, perpetuating a pattern of over-commitment & burnout?
- Can no one do it “right” but me? - Do I think if I don’t do it, it won’t get done?
- Do I feel resentful about the service I am doing? Am I being a martyr or a victim?
- What attitudes/beliefs/realizations help me be of true service to ACA?
- What support do I need to be able to be of service? How can we support each other in service?
- Do I do my service with care? - Do I value myself and the service I do?
- Do I allow my group to experience the consequences of service positions not being filled?
- Am I guided by my Higher Power?
- Do I follow the Group Conscience decisions of my group?
- How can I take the principles of ACA service into my daily life and work?
- Do I carry the message of service being part of our recovery ?
- How do I let go of results?
THOUGHTS ON SERVICE FROM MEMBERS IN RECOVERY
“I am a trusted servant. I do not govern”
“It will get done, even if I don’t do it”
“I don’t have to wait until I have enough recovery. Service may lead me into that recovery”
“I don’t have to do it all and I don’t have to do it perfectly”
“Service is part of loving myself. The ACA program gives me back my life – it is important to me that ACA continues to be available.”
“Service to me is principles before personalities”
“Service is any contribution I make to ACA that aids my recovery or someone else’s”