The Gift of Service

Table of Contents

Service is not only one of the most important tenets of recovery, but it’s also one of the greatest gifts of sobriety. It’s not simply a gift we give to others – in many ways, it’s a gift that we receive as well.

In our lives before recovery at Jaywalker Lodge, many of us were driven by selfishness. The literature even tells us the root of most of our troubles is self-centered fear. In our disease, we certainly suffered at the hands of many types of selfishness. Beyond that, many of us often refused the help of those who reached out to us. There wasn’t much service in our lives before recovery – it’s often something alcoholics and addicts resist as much as we can. Very gently, the 12-Steps guide us to consider service as not just an important part of our life, but a necessary and wonderful part of our sobriety.

By Serving Others, You Serve Yourself

As we work the 12-Steps, we come to understand how service can enrich our lives and the lives of those around us. It helps us grow closer to those we help and to those we allow to help us – both of which are big additions to our lives. Making the effort to be of service to others is a great antidote to loneliness and isolation. Softening our hearts and allowing others to be of service to us can open up our lives in surprising ways. Not only can we feel the beauty of altruistic interaction among human beings, but we can learn to give and receive. This reciprocity helps us to truly become part of a community.

Once we have allowed ourselves to be taken into the fold, and we experience the heartwarming joy of reciprocal service, we come to feel at home and a part of the world in ways we never imagined. We understand the value of giving and helping out. Where we may have wandered after a purpose in our daily lives, we now see great purpose in being of service. As the 12th-Step tells us, sharing the 12-Step program with others is a tremendous way to be of service. Recovery gives us a feeling of participation, inclusion, and purpose in ways previously unreachable to us – often by knowing that we are of service when and where we can.

Accepting a Helping Hand

For many of us in our disease, it can be very hard to accept helping hands when they are offered. At Jaywalker Lodge and in recovery, we find those hands reaching out all over the place. It can be hard at first to accept that help, but we soon realize that we must learn to accept help if we intend to stay and flourish in recovery. This is our first lesson in service – how to allow ourselves to receive it. It would be far too hard and very lonely if we tried to enter sobriety without the help of those who came before us. So we learn to take the helping hand, and we see how much joy and fulfillment service brings to the lives of people who engage in it.

This is a pretty stellar motivation to take up the suggestion of service for ourselves. We can experience an opportunity to be of service almost anywhere and anytime – not just in the rooms of recovery, but throughout our daily lives. Things like helping a cat out of a tree or walking an elderly neighbor across the street suddenly stop being cliché and become very real opportunities to participate in our sobriety through service. We begin to see everyday chances to be helpful and useful to the people around us. These opportunities may present themselves in such simple ways as a sink full of dishes, a friend moving, a newcomer wanting to read the Big Book, or a phone call to a lonely friend. So many ways to be of good use will meet us in our everyday lives – we only have to keep our eyes open, and our heart set for service.

Finding Purpose

Indeed, service is in our 12-Steps, in our prayers, and in our program. It’s one whole side of the triangle of recovery. It is often a repeated suggestion, a solution to many problems, and something to do when we have free time on our hands. Even this list does not fully cover the utility and blessing of service. The old adages that say “we must give it away to keep it” and “you get what you give” are true. It is an easy experiment to test these sayings out and see for ourselves how true they are. The fullness of our lives increases in proportion to the service we give – and the program of recovery has almost unlimited ways for us to be of service.

At one crucial point the Big Book says, “our real purpose is to fit ourselves to be of maximum service to God and the people about us.” This should leave no doubt. Our true purpose and one of the greatest healing balms of recovery is service. Thankfully, we come to places like Jaywalker Lodge and find a community ready to embrace us and teach us. Then we can spend grateful time teaming up with our people to be of maximum service.

Are you ready to find the help you need? Jaywalker Lodge provides hope and a healing environment for men in recovery. The Jaywalker community values the principles of integrity, personal accountability, and service to others above all else. We know the joy of service and the connection and purpose it brings to life. We can’t wait to help you experience it. 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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