Being of Service

Table of Contents

What does “being of service” actually mean? Why do we talk about it so much in recovery? Is it really as important as it sounds? Being of service is more than being helpful on occasion — it’s a lifestyle that is vital to successful recovery. We talk about service so often because it’s one of the major keystones of a life in recovery.


There is a lot that we can learn about being of service, and there is a lot that can be said about it, too. Simply put, service is one of the single most important ingredients to a healthy, happy, and successful recovery lifestyle. Let’s take some time to explore this incredible element of recovery.


What Is Service?


Service is more than just lending a hand whenever we can. Service is a way of life. Some people say that it’s only considered being of service if it’s inconvenient, but that’s untrue and the wrong way to look at things. It’s only considered service if we do it with our hearts. Service work is not an inconvenience. In fact, for alcoholics and addicts in recovery, service is a way of life.


Not only is service a vital part of how we keep and maintain our recovery, but it’s also one of the greatest gifts of recovery. Through the service that we do for others, our own lives are made richer, fuller, and happier. But what is service exactly? Well, for those of us in recovery, we have a built-in introductory crash course when it comes to service.


From our very first day in recovery, we can pick up a service commitment at our very first meeting. Every recovery meeting needs help to run smoothly, and we can volunteer to pitch in. Maybe we help set up chairs or clean up afterward. The job really doesn’t matter as much as the commitment does. Every commitment, no matter how big or small, is solid service. That’s Service 101 for you!


The 12-Step recovery program offers us our biggest opportunity for service in the 12th Step. This is where we get cleared to be a sponsor to others in recovery. Sponsorship is the biggest and most consistent service opportunity there is. There will always be recovering alcoholics and addicts who can use our help. Our own lives depend upon us being there to help as many of them as we possibly can.


Service also goes well beyond the rooms of recovery. Sometimes it may look like regular old helpfulness, but it’s important that we live in such a way that all who know us are able to count on us for help. From helping a friend move to giving a stranger directions, from buying lunch for someone down on their luck to being a listening ear, there are a million little service opportunities every day that we should embrace. 


Why Do We Need To Be of Service?


Why exactly is service so important? Because it’s a by-product of the Twelve Steps that our lives get put in order. But this is not the point of the program, it’s a blessing of the program. According to the book Alcoholics Anonymous, the purpose of recovery is to fit ourselves to be of maximum service to our higher power and our fellow human beings. The importance of recovery as a way of life is stated multiple times and in no uncertain terms. The Big Book also says that our very lives as alcoholics and addicts in recovery depend upon our constant thought of others and how we may help meet their needs. Let’s repeat it again: our lives depend upon thinking of others and helping them. That’s about as straightforward as it gets. Aside from working the Steps and fellowshipping with others, service is one of the three pillars of recovery and it’s vitally important.


The necessity of service is often looked at like work we have to do. But once you experience the gifts of service, you’ll understand that we get more than we put in, and our lives grow in indescribably beautiful ways as we focus on service as a way of life. 


How Can We Be of Service Most Effectively?


On any given day, there are dozens and dozens of ways to be of service to everyone we meet and in whatever situations we find ourselves in. Keeping our eyes and hearts open to these opportunities as they arise is far more important than trying to plan out all our service work in advance. Staying present in the moment and keeping our heart focused on service will help us become of maximum service the more we practice them. 


How can we best keep our hearts and eyes open? By continuously and actively working the Twelve Steps, of course! Staying engaged in the program is the best way we can fit ourselves to become of maximum service to our higher power and our fellow human beings. If we really want to kick it up a notch, we can especially focus on the 11th Step and 12th Step. Prayer and meditation will help keep us present in each moment and on the lookout for opportunities to work the 12th Step.


Whatever ways we find to be of service are less important than our simply seeking to be of service. Try it for yourself, and see how bountiful the gifts of service really are. 


The 12-Step program is built upon three pillars: Unity, Service, and Recovery. Unity is the fellowship and union with our recovery community. Recovery is the Twelve Steps themselves and what we achieve with all three pillars at once. Service is not only part of how we grow ourselves and our lives exponentially, but it is essential to achieving and maintaining our recovery. Jaywalker Lodge wholeheartedly believes in every element of the 12-Step program of recovery, not only because we have seen it work for countless people, but because we have seen it work firsthand in our own lives. Service is part of how we unite with our community, part of how we build more fulfilling lives, and most importantly, part of how we recover. Those who seek to be of service gratefully and happily understand why it means so much. If you are ready to begin your recovery journey, we’re here for you. Call us now at (866) 529-9255.

author avatar
Stefan Bate, MA, LAC, CCTP Chief Clinical Officer
Stefan Bate, BA, MA, LAC holds a Master's Degree in Applied Psychology from Regis University and is a Licensed Addiction Counselor in the state of Colorado. Stefan has wide-ranging experience in the field of addiction recovery including: working as a recovery coach, therapist, and program director.

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