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The Business of Recovery

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Early on, I was taught that OA is a business as well as a recovery program. My service in OA is both part of the business side and part of my recovery. When I serve, I not only help further my own program, but I also help make recovery a possibility for others.

If I am a group secretary, I can arrive at the meeting fifteen minutes before it begins to unlock the door, make coffee, and set up chairs and literature. In this way, I provide an opportunity for others to share their recovery. If I am a group treasurer, I can help keep track of finances, pay the rent and other bills, and split our surplus Seventh Tradition contributions appropriately. In this way, I help make sure our group has a meeting location and that our service bodies can help carry the message.

I always get something from the experience of serving others, and if I am asked to serve, I always accept. However, I do not accept a service position lightly. I am not accepting a title or a position of power—our only leader is God, working through us (as expressed in Tradition Two). I want to give back to OA because of my recovery, so, instead, I accept duties and responsibilities. I become a servant in a position of trust. Members deem me responsible to execute their requirements and help carry out the business side of OA. If our duties and responsibilities are not being accomplished, we all suffer: members, groups, intergroups, regions, and the World Service Office.

Sure, it’s volunteer work. We are never paid for our service (unless we are a special worker). However, if I do accept any service position, I always feel I should perform the duties and responsibilities correctly as outlined by the group conscience. I do not do it just “when I have the time.” If my life has become too busy or I cannot keep my commitment, then I need to step down. Again, OA is a business as well as a recovery program.

In OA, I have learned how to be responsible. At first, members trusted me with small setup tasks. Then, they elected me as our group secretary. As I demonstrated responsible behavior, they continued to trust me with other service positions. Never did a sponsor push me or force me into doing service. It is a program of attraction, not promotion; I have to be attracted to serve. I have to be willing to give back and be trustworthy enough to be elected.

I am grateful for the guidance of our Twelve Traditions. I try to apply them both inside and outside of OA. I am grateful for the OA Handbook for Groups and Service Bodies and other literature that explains the business aspect of OA. I am grateful for our bylaws, policies, and procedures that outline service position duties and demonstrate all the hard work that went into creating these documents.

I am grateful to my sponsors, to Bill W. and Rozanne S., and to all the longtimers in my life who taught me how to serve. My first sponsor told me repeatedly that the most selfish thing I could do would be to come to OA and use it to recover from compulsive overeating but never give back to the program by serving. Now, I would add that it would be just as selfish and irresponsible of me to accept a service position but never or rarely perform its duties and responsibilities, or to defiantly reject the group conscience, bylaws, policies and procedures, and Traditions. OA is a business as well as a recovery program. My service, your service, and everyone’s service provides us all with the opportunity to recover and reach others. Together we get better!

— Edited and reprinted from The Northern Lights newsletter, Anchorage Alaska Intergroup August 2015

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