By Dave K
I have been studying the concepts with my sponsor using the “Twelve Concepts for NA Service” booklet. The seventh concept states that “All members of a service body bear substantial responsibility for that body’s decisions and should be allowed to fully participate in its decision-making process.” It is tempting and may seem right to leave decision making to the most popular addicts, or the addicts with the most clean time, however it is very important that everyone be given the opportunity to participate equally in our meetings, and in making decisions.
No one in our fellowship is superior or inferior to anyone else, we just have different experiences. The therapeutic value of one addict helping another includes the newcomer helping an addict with substantial clean time, just as much as the other way around. An addict who does not have a lot of time in our program can help a service body make decisions and should be allowed to be part of the process. No one in our fellowship or service groups is more important than anyone else.
We are a fellowship that is governed by principles as expressed in our literature and not the personal opinions of popular members. Everyone gets a say in how we interpret these principles and apply them to the situations that we face. An addict with little clean time may have more experience, strength and hope in a certain area than addicts with a lot of clean time.
Although everyone is allowed to participate, sometimes we do delegate responsibility to certain members. For example, everyone in a group is encouraged to participate in decisions affected our fellowship however we delegate to the GSR the power to express our group conscience at the area level.
The GSRs and chair people may be in leadership positions, however group conscience is determined by everyone. Something may be OK with the GSR or chairperson, but not ok with the group as a whole. Or perhaps something is not OK with the GSR or chairperson, but we do it anyways because it is the group conscience to do so. Our leaders are servants to the group and fellowship and are not commanders or dictators.
Diversity is our strength. The disease of addiction does not discriminate amongst people. There are all different types of people in our fellowship, with many different perspectives. No one perspective is right or wrong, we just have different perspectives. In order to take advantage of our diversity it is important that everyone get a chance to participate with his or her perspective.