Ask-It Basket – Service

Q. How can we encourage members to do service? Many take the view that they can’t do service before they recover!

When we first come into Overeaters Anonymous, we want recovery to be about us; then our sponsor mentions service. Service gives back to the program and helps us too. In order to keep what we have, we have to give back what was so freely given.

All members, newcomers and longtimers, are encouraged to do service to help their recovery. Newcomers can set up chairs, carry the literature for a meeting or the key to a meeting. Some meetings have coffee, which newcomers can set up. They can also make outreach calls to other members, participate in readings at meetings, make announcements, and visit their intergroup.

I was encouraged to go to intergroup by my sponsor. I didn’t need to be abstinent to go and see what an intergroup was all about. I went as a meeting rep. There were all kinds of things I could do without any abstinence requirements at all, like helping plan recovery events. I was good with computers, so I made flyers. I was able to place flyers and pamphlets in our local libraries and hospitals. My service helped carry the message to the still-suffering compulsive overeater. When I did reach required abstinence times, I was voted in as Secretary of our intergroup. I also became the region rep for our Region Eight assembly.

My love of service and OA took off from there. I served in many positions on the intergroup board and in my region. Here I am today—an OA trustee.

I love the journey of recovery. I meet so many people I never would have met otherwise. Doing service means we can trudge together that “Road of Happy Destiny” the Big Book mentions (Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th ed., p. 164), and carry the message to other compulsive eaters; it is our primary purpose.

[Another trustee answers:]

Your second sentence, “Many take the view that they can’t do service before they recover” captures one of the many paradoxes in our program. Those who wait to be recovering or abstaining before they give service miss the fact that many who do service are gifted with recovery/abstinence along the way.

We can remind members that Service is one of our Tools of recovery; it can also be included in another Tool: Action Plan. A sponsor can request that all his or her sponsees do some level of service. When encouraging members to do service, include many ideas: members can help set up chairs and put them away at the end of meetings (they will undoubtedly share with others while doing this service). A newer person can become a “speaker getter” for the group, or be the group’s literature person. Two or more newer members can work as a team to do a service—this practice generates support and helps with commitment, and service becomes fun! All this while, any person who has a dilemma about putting service, recovery, or abstinence first gets to put aside intellectual argument and instead live in the solution.

Always remember that any person giving service can ask their Higher Power to be with them; that way they are working Step Eleven whether they realize it or not. And please remember too that we humans want to be asked to help.