Step 12

I am in Milwaukee tonight, at a convention for meeting planners, reflecting on the discussion from my last meeting back home. We talked of the vicissitudes of life. And that is what summer is for me – a big fat pile of vicissitude. While I greatly enjoy spending more time with my kids and the increased business travel, it’s hard for me to live outside my normal routines.

I’m nearing the end of a month-long stretch when I have been unable to get to my regular meetings, meet with sponsees as often as I would like, or just spend time with other sober people. At the beginning of this stretch, I told my girls what my upcoming schedule looked like and encouraged them to keep in contact with me, despite the fact that I wouldn’t be able to be physically present so often. Wouldn’t you know, they’re no better at calling their sponsor than I am, though.

But why should that be a big deal to me? How much do I depend on these girls to maintain my own sobriety? When we’re young in the program, be-bopping our way through the steps, many of us begin to get eager for the time when we can adopt our own newcomers and become someone’s guru. Sponsorship is oftentimes considered synonymous with 12th step work… and to what end? Do we want to rush through the steps so that our ego can be fed by newbies who think we’re minor gods for recovering from a hopeless state of mind and body?

Step 12 is so much more than sponsorship. And if sponsorship doesn’t come from God with us simply acting as vessels, then it isn’t even real 12th step work, either. Rather, it’s just another way that we egomaniacs try to get over our inferiority complexes. “Having had a spiritual awakening” – having become open to receiving God’s instruction, that is – “we tried to carry this message” and “practice these principles in all our affairs.” Twelfth step work involves anything we do where we are carrying God’s message (whatever that is for us) into the world. More than any other step, this one must go hand in hand with spiritual well-being or we are simply feeding our own egos and making ourselves sicker.

“Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” – Matthew 28:18-20 (NLT)

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