In the ARP program, each of the steps is associated with a principal of the Gospel. Step 12 is called “Service.” I think it could just as easily have been called “Missionary Work” or “Endure to the End,” and I will write about those another time.
I attended an ARP meeting focused on Step 12 recently. As I listened to the step being read and to the other participants sharing, a flood of thoughts entered my mind about the many ways that we can serve within the program. Members of the Church talk about service a lot. There are so many opportunities for service in the Church and in the world. But for those of us whose lives have been changed by the ARP program, here are some ways that came to my mind that we can “give back,” thus expressing our gratitude to the Lord for this miraculous program of recovery.
Without people coming to the meetings, there would be no meetings! If someone really needs a meeting and looks forward to it and they are the only participant when they get there, they are, at the very least, disappointed. Sometimes I don’t feel like going, but I have made a decision to attend certain meetings faithfully, which is a service to others while strengthening my own program.
Be an Example of Hope
When I share my experience, strength, faith and hope at meetings or in private conversations it encourages newcomers who need to see living, breathing examples of recovery. Even those of us who have not yet achieved what we would call recovery can be examples of the determination to start again and keep trying. When I talk to people in the normal course of life, I frequently find that the ARP program comes up. That is probably because it is so important to my happiness and joy. I hope that if they are struggling and would be blessed by participating in the program, their hearts may be touched and they, too might find peace by using the 12 Steps to learn how to better apply the Atonement in their lives.
Invite Others to a Meeting
There are people who know I attend ARP meetings and have seemed curious about the program. When I feel inspired to do so I invite them to attend a meeting with me. It is hard for some people to go to their first meeting alone. What if they see someone there that they know, and are embarrassed? What will happen at the meeting? What if they are expected to share? These and many other questions can keep people from trying the program. When I invite someone to attend a meeting with me, it makes it easier and more comfortable for them to come. This is a service.
Offer a Ride
Some people have transportation issues that make it difficult to attend meetings regularly. When you talk to other participants after the meeting you may become aware of this. Being willing to pick someone up and get them to the meeting can be a great service.
If the program has made a big difference in your life, be open to bearing your testimony of that. Some of us do it in Testimony Meeting, others in smaller settings. Be open to the promptings of the Spirit, and seek the willingness to bear testimony of the program.
Share Your Story
On the Church’s ARP website there are wonderful stories shared by people who have received the gift of recovery. What a service to those who don’t know anyone in the program, or who have no meetings in their area or who cannot attend for some reason! Do you have a story of recovery? Would you be willing to share it? Here is a link to the page where you can submit your own recovery story. Share Your Story.
Be a Support Person
A Support Person (called a sponsor in other 12-Step programs) shares their own experience to help guide others as they work the Steps. I have written recently about this and plan to write more in the near future. This is a form of service that blesses the life of the sponsor and much as it blesses the life of the sponsee.
Be a Facilitator
A facilitator is someone who runs the sharing portion of an ARP meeting. If you have been sober for 12 continuous months and are willing to attend a meeting regularly, you may be qualified to be a facilitator. If you feel inspired to do so, contact your Bishop or Stake President and let them know of your willingness to serve. They can give you a copy of the Facilitator Application, which lists all of the qualifications. A facilitator willing to share his or her recovery story and how they apply the steps to their own lives can provide a real service to those who still struggle.
Become a Missionary
ARP meetings are conducted by Church Service Missionaries. These individuals or couples serve part time and live at home. They receive training on how to run a meeting. Sometimes they get to speak at 5th Sunday meetings or other meetings to share information about the ARP program with members of the wards and stakes from which their meeting participants are drawn.
Please feel free to share in the comments below other examples from your own life of how you render Service within the program. I look forward to hearing your ideas!
- What kinds of service might you be able to give?
- What are you willing to do?
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