Bill Wilson (co-founder of A.A.) had this to say about leadership in Alcoholics Anonymous, “No society can function well without able leadership in all its levels, and AA can be no exception” (AA Grapevine, April 1959). So what does able leadership look like in the recovery community? What are the guiding principles that a “trusted servant” should use? To help me remember and focus on the principles involved in good leadership, I use the acronym LDRSHIP.
Loyalty: The principle of loyalty reminds me that I need the fellowship of the recovery community for my survival. Step One and Tradition One remind me that it is a team effort. Step one reminds me that this is a “We” program. “We admitted we…” and Tradition One reminds me that “Our common welfare should come first”. Benjamin Franklin put it this way, “We must, indeed, all hang together or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately”. Loyalty reminds me that I cannot do this alone and I need the fellowship of the recovery community to enhance and augment my recovery journey.
Discipline: The principle of discipline reminds me that I need to commit myself day by day to my recovery journey. The principle of discipline reminds me that I am accountable to myself and others. From page 88 of the book Alcoholics Anonymous we find…“We alcoholics are undisciplined. So we let God discipline us in the simple way we have just outlined. What incorporating discipline into my recovery journey has taught me is accountability and commitment. The principle of discipline has taught me the importance of faithful attendance at my home-group. The principle of discipline has taught me about following through on my commitments. The principle of discipline reminds me that I am not cured of my disease and what I really have is “a daily reprieve contingent on the maintenance of (my) our spiritual condition” (Alcoholics Anonymous pg. 85)
Responsibility: The principle of responsibility reminds me that “carrying the message” is part of my job description. I am responsible. Not the person on my left or my right, not the gal sitting across from me or someone from another group, but that I am responsible. “I am responsible when anyone anywhere reaches out for help, I want the hand of AA always to be there and for that I am responsible.” (AA’s responsibility statement).
Service: The principle of service has shown me that I keep this thing called recovery by giving it away. It is said that, “it is in giving that we receive”. This is especially true about sobriety. It is what the 12th Step of A.A. encourages and what the 5th Tradition of A.A. suggests.
From page 89 of the book Alcoholics Anonymous we find this quote “Practical experience shows that nothing will so much insure immunity from drinking as intensive work with other alcoholics.” As one member of the recovery community put it, “When I carry the message, when I find somebody else to whom I can tell my story, when I find another person who has a need where I might be able to help them, something happens inside of me. I get a little less self-absorbed”.
The principle of service reminds me that I do the footwork and I leave the results up to God. As Mother Teresa once said, “God called me to serve. God has not called me to be successful”. The principle of service reminds me what joy there is in the simple act of helping another human being. The poet Alexander Pope put it this way, “Act will your part, there all the honor lies”. The principle of service reminds me that our real purpose is “to fit ourselves to be of maximum service to God and the people about us”. (Alcoholics Anonymous pg. 77)
Honesty: The principle of honesty reminds me to continue the work I started in steps four through seven. The principle of honesty reminds me that I need to be “rigorously honest” not just “kinda”, sorta, or a little honest. The principle of honesty reminds me that I continue to take a personal inventory and when I’m wrong I promptly, immediately and without hesitation admit it.
Integrity: The principle of integrity reminds me to do the right thing. It prevents me from taking the easy left and reminds me to take the hard right. Integrity is about morale fearless. It is the willingness to take an unpopular stance not out of ego, but because it is the right thing to do. It is the willingness to speak up when others are unwilling or unable to. It is about being true to “thine own self”.
Prayer: The principle of prayer reminds me that it isn’t about me – rather it is about God. The principle of prayer reminds me that there is a Power greater than myself and I don’t have to do things by myself. The principle of prayer reminds me that I can call on my Higher Power for strength, wisdom and peace. The principle of prayer reminds me that I never have to be alone again.
LDRSHIP is what I use to lead a life that is principle based. LDRSHIP are the guiding principles I use to be “trusted servant” to the recovery community.