Giving Service at Meetings

Yesterday, I wrote about service burnout. In that post, I mentioned how one can give service at a meeting, thereby fulfilling two program requirements in one.

Meetings are the lifeblood of our fellowship. But meetings don’t make you sober. I have known far too many people who go to meetings daily but won’t do what is necessary to stay abstinent.

Yet meetings are one of our tools, a way to share in a group where we came from, what happened, and what we are like now. And it is the perfect opportunity to give service to many at once.

Sharing is a vital service at meetings. When the newcomer shares, we remember the pain; when sponsors share, we find hope and ways to stick to our program under adverse circumstances. You don’t have to dish out an elaborate share. Just speaking up to claim your seat lets others know they are not alone.

We know that no meeting flourishes if members don’t attend and share. But the fact is that no meeting survives without members giving other types of service. While much of our program requires time and energy in our day, to put it bluntly, meetings are the only time we can give service without further impacting our schedule.

All meetings need at least the following services during the meeting:

  • A leader to read the format of the meeting
  • Members (anyone whether abstinent or not) for the readings (such as the 12 Steps)
  • A timekeeper to ensure no one person hogs the meeting
  • Members to share
  • Someone to lead the business meeting

In addition, some DA H.O.W. meetings need:

  • Sponsors to read and pitch on tools
  • Someone to read additional program literature as part of the meeting
  • Sponsors as speakers to share their stories for 10 minutes
  • Someone to lead a guided meditation

Recently, I saw first-hand why it is important for all members to contribute and participate at a DA H.O.W. meeting as well as the need for sponsors at meetings.

  • There was no leader scheduled. Despite not feeling well, a member took on the position because no one else would do so and the meeting was already late.
  • Though there are only a couple of readings, no one would step up to read one of the longer ones so the leader had to do that as well.
  • No one would step up to lead the monthly business meeting, so it was not held.
  • When a timekeeper was requested, no one stepped up, so another member, who also continually gives service at this meeting did so.
  • No one was scheduled or would step up to share their story for 10 minutes as speaker.

During announcements, both the timekeeper and the leader commented on the need for more people to do service. As the leader said, “I led this meeting for six months, and another member for three. But we cannot expect one or two people to keep a meeting going.”

We sometimes think that giving back has to be a grand gesture. But sometimes, just doing simple tasks are most welcome. It boggles my mind that at many of the DA H.O.W. meetings, though the link to download the format is given out time after time after time, so few people take the two minutes to download it or even pull it up on the computer. That’s all it would take to have it with you during the meeting so you could do a reading. Some of the readings, like the Steps and Traditions, are found in any DA literature.

Everyone needs to pitch in. While I wrote in my previous post that doing too much service can burn you out, here I am imploring members to be more participatory so that we don’t burn out others.

I think, and this is just my opinion, that if you are finding recovery in the DA H.O.W. way of working the program, then you should have a DA H.O.W. Home meeting that you attend weekly and in which you give service, be it reading, leading, or timekeeping. The first and last can be done by any member, abstinent or not, newcomer or old-timer. Everyone is welcome. Everyone can be graced with Recovery. And everyone can give something back at a meeting.

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2 thoughts on “Giving Service at Meetings

  1. Thank you for this wonderful blog and taking the time to address all these topics. I feel compelled to respond to this post as well.

    I’m 9 months into DA HOW. I lead a DA HOW meeting on Thurs night and have been, almost exclusively, since my 30 days requirement was met. I stepped up and agreed to lead in a panic. The leader I’d been listening to for 30 days announced a need to step down as leader. They had lead the meeting for too many months and said it wasn’t good for their program. At the time I was still in a 90 in 90 and definitely needed every DA HOW meeting I could find.

    First, as a newbie this shocked me. I had assumed that meetings had sponsor rotation as a given. I figured eventually there would be other sponsors willing to step up. I also thought I’d receive some ‘training’ in how to lead a meeting and when to hold business meetings, etc….. At this time I’m choosing to let some details go due to lack of experience.

    Our meeting goes through stages of very strong to very weak (with the occasional night of no meeting at all). I’m hopeful we will soon have new up and coming leaders. There are so many new comers showing up and sharing.

    I’m sending out a plea to DA HOW sponsors to attend this meeting if you can.
    To even commit to taking the lead for a month or even a week here and there. Some weeks we have only 2-3 people qualified to read and pitch on tools. My own experience is still so limited. I feel bad for the newcomers who often have only me or have a couple/few other sponsors to listen and learn from.

    There have been times the meeting doesn’t happen. I know how helpless this feels to the desperate and hopeless beginner. The memories of my own bottom are not that far off in the distant past. I remember calling in and being confused why a meeting wasn’t happening??

    I understand I’m not responsible for saving a dying meeting. I don’t believe this meeting has to die. With so many desperate newcomers it just needs a stronger sponsor attendance. And I need your help so I don’t loose my home group! I don’t want anyone who is over working their programs to add to their service……….yet meetings are such a give and receive experience!

    Just saying………….:-)

  2. Thank you so much for your comment. This is EXACTLY what I am talking about in this post. It would take just a little effort from DA H.O.W. members for us to have a thriving meeting community. I am so grateful to members like you who continue doing service in the vacuum. If each DA H.O.W. sponsor would pick one home H.O.W. meeting and once a month or so rotate to the others, and participate/lead periodically, this would not be an issue at all. I must admit it is perplexing to me. Thank you for taking the time to write such a thorough and heartfelt reply.

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