“Alcoholics Anonymous Should Remain Forever Nonprofessional, but Our Service Centers May Employ Special Workers”
Written to protect us from ourselves, the Traditions reflect the collective problem solving experience during our fellowships first dozen years. In the 60 plus years since they were proposed then adopted, none have ever been changed. What held true then holds true today.
Bill W., says in his essay about Tradition 8 in the book Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions; “Freely have ye received, freely give.” In the next paragraph Bill reminds us, “Almost from the beginning, we have been positive that face-to-face work with the alcoholic who still suffers could be based only on the desire to help and be helped.
Tradition 8 guides our financial responsibilities telling us that Twelfth Step work is never to be paid for. As A.A. members representing the A.A. program we are all volunteers and the only expertise we claim is our own experiences as active alcoholics and our individual recovery through the practice of the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. This one-on-one sharing is the basis for our fellowships existence and the key to the spiritual experience of one alcoholic relating to another alcoholic, thereby saving two lives.
The Twelve and Twelve also defines SPECIAL WORKERS as professionals or paid employees who make Twelfth Step work possible. Someone has to sweep the floors, answer our phones, edit and produce our literature and “man the AA lifelines.” None of these paid workers are considered to be professionalizing Twelfth Step work. Their jobs are to make Twelfth Step work possible.
In our Home Group none of our members are paid for the work they do. Someone sets up the chairs, someone lays out our literature display, someone provides our coffee (out of their pocket, not group funds), someone pays our rent and keeps our books, someone attends business meetings and provides reports and all are volunteers. The rent we pay does help pay for the clean, climate controlled, facility in which we meet. Those paid employees make Twelfth Step work possible but in no way do they professionalize Twelfth Step work.
A wise oldtimer once remarked, “The Twelve Traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous often provide just enough rope for us to hang ourselves.”
Sunday Morning Serenity