One of the pitfalls to being in a “helping profession” is my tendency to neglect my own needs. Someone once told me people in helping professions go into those professions precisely because they need the help themselves. And rather than getting the help they so desperately need, they end up helping others, thinking this will satisfy their needs. Perhaps ministers go into the ministry because it is they who need to hear the gospel so much. In any case, as a recovering person and as a minister, I need to remember that unless I meet my own needs I cannot meet anyone else’s. As Jesus said, “Take the log out of your own eye first.” My recovery has to come first before I can be of any use to anyone else. This means my meetings must be a priority, the steps need to be my daily habit.
People say it is a selfish program and there is much truth to that. By being selfish about my recovery, by addressing my issues first, I am in a better position to serve others. By putting my recovery first, I am putting others first.
Brother Lawrence, a monastic from the 17th century made this observation once: “It was lamentable to see how many people mistook the means for the end, addicting themselves to certain works, which they performed very imperfectly, by reason of their human or selfish regards.” Brother Lawrence was talking about how in the name of feeding others we begin to imagine we are being fed by our actions – we become so preoccupied with forming committees, serving on boards and dealing with crises we start to see ourselves as principal actors instead of people who need to be acted upon (works, righteousness, idolatry).
My meetings feed me and keep me humble. Working the steps keeps me growing in communion with God.
They have a wonderful saying at the end of my regular meeting. Usually, after the Lord’s prayer you hear, “Keep coming back, it works if you work it.” At my home group they add this line: “Keep coming back, it works if you work it, and it sucks if you don’t.”
Ain’t that the truth!
Ed T., Editor