“What is a GSR, and how come our Group doesn’t have one?

“What is a GSR, and how come our Group doesn’t have one?

Story submitted by: Bill L.

Sobriety Date: 01/23/1995

“What is a GSR? And How come our Group doesn’t have one?” I asked.

And the response from across the room was clear: “Congratulations, you are the new GSR.  The District meets next Sunday, you can go down there and find out.”

And with those words, my formal service structure experiences began. I became a GSR in 1997.

When I came into AA in 1995, I was asked to help wash coffee cups and clean ash trays.  I thought they were just hazing the new guy and making him clean up the place.  Later they explained to me that doing that was service work and that I was helping to make a meeting possible.  That I was learning to get out of myself and do something for someone else.  That in so doing, and being of service, I would be able to stay sober, at least that is what those before me had done and it worked for them…who knew?

I was taught service at the Group level from the time I came in.  My first home group had me cleaning up from about the second or third meeting, and eventually chairing meetings.  Boy, was I ever high and mighty important person when I chaired my first meeting.  I have come to learn and understand that service positions are not roles of importance, but rather the way in which I give back to this program that has saved my life.  Service is the means by which I can maintain Gratitude to this Fellowship and to my Higher Power.  I can contribute my bit part to helping AA be self supporting thorough our own contributions of time and effort.  Gratitude is expressed in action, I was taught.  I went on to serve home Groups as Treasurer, Secretary, and Alt GSR.

At my first GSR Orientation, I was shown the 1955 Resolution wherein “AA Comes of Age.”  They showed me that we were the successors to Bill and Dr Bob.  I had no idea what GSR was, but it struck me that if part of that role is to serve as a successor to Bill and Dr Bob, it must be important, and I had better take it seriously.  I have taken every service position that I have held seriously since that day.  I never want to give less than “All I have to Give” to this program.  I carry that obligation deep within me always, and the fruits of that dedication have provided more growth, learning, joy, and internal peace of mind that I could have ever imagined.  I have since served at the District level as Committee Chair, Alternate DCM and DCM.  Area 46 has afforded me that opportunity to serve as CPC Chair, Archives Chair, Registrar, Alt Delegate and Delegate.  I remain forever grateful for all of the service opportunities that have been gifted to me.

Early on, the Traditions were brought into my life as I became involved in service.  Very quickly, it was clear that knowing and understanding these Traditions was going to play an important role in service.  This began a lifelong relationship with the Traditions.  My relationship with the Traditions has been equally as impactful in my life as have the twelve Steps. I was taught to learn how to bring the Traditions into my life just as I had brought the Steps into my life.  Later, there was new conversation and language being introduced as I was exposed to the twelve Concepts.  Again, another avenue for growth, learning and understanding of how to successfully interact with people in service.  I had a sponsor point out that Anonymity is the Spiritual Foundation of all of our Traditions.  He asked me to go back through all the Traditions and answer the question” How is anonymity the spiritual foundation of Tradition One?  How is anonymity the spiritual foundation of Tradition Two and so on.  This proved to be a significant turning point in my recovery.  I found the line in the 12 x 12 that states that sacrifice is the spiritual substance of anonymity, and so I began the journey of determining what must I sacrifice to adhere to each Tradition?  I began to notice a direct correlation with inventory (step) work that I was doing involving money, property and authority.  It became clear that if I wanted to work on a defect I had a place to practice these spiritual principles in my life.  If I have a defect that looks like “I want something for nothing”, we have a Tradition for that.  It asks me to be self-supporting through my own contributions.  If I have a defect of character that sounds like “I want to do what I want to do, and I don’t want to hear from you about it”, we have a Tradition for that.  One that asks me to be directly responsible to those I serve.  I get to learn of accountability.  One of those great fears I found in my fourth step; being held accountable for my behavior.  And so it has gone with all of the Traditions for me.  I can effectively learn in service how to change my behavior in response to my defects and natural desires.  Perhaps, something like a personality change sufficient to recover from alcoholism.

I have learned many similar truths in the twelve Concepts.  From the first Concept, I become aware that everyone is important – so I learn of respect, and from the third, that everyone is worthy of being trusted – so I learn not to fear others, and the fourth tells me that everyone is included – so I learn of love and tolerance, and the fifth lets me know that everyone should be heard – so I learn to listen with an open mind.

Our Three Legacies, when all are combined, create an unshakeable foundation for life that is beyond compare.  If we only participate in the first Legacy of Recovery, we have shortchanged ourselves of two-thirds of what the program has to offer.  When I engage in the Second Legacy of Unity and the Third Legacy of Service, I enjoy all the blessings that our Higher Power would make available to us by participating in the program of Alcoholics Anonymous.  A program that not only saved my life but provided for me a life beyond my wildest imagination.

I would not have learned all of these things and would not have received all the blessings that have come my way if I had not been willing “to go down to the District meeting on that Sunday and find out what a GSR was”.  I am forever Grateful to serve AA.

Yours in Love and Service,

Bill L