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Definition of Step Twelve – Charity: the voluntary giving of help to those in need.
Synonyms of Step Twelve – Charity: benevolence, generosity, goodwill, kindness, etc.

These notes are from recovery in AA and/or related 12 step programs.
Readers are encouraged to click external links for more detail.
We hope you find them helpful.
Love in fellowship.
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Step Twelve: Having had a spiritual experience as the result of this course of action, we tried to carry this message to others, especially alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs. | More…

Working with others is only the beginning of service work. It is vital to remember that the group conscience is what counts, not just our individual beliefs and desires.

We lend our thoughts and beliefs to the development of a group conscience. Then when that conscience arises, we accept its guidance. The key is working with others, not against them. –Just For Today | More…

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The Twelfth Step of A.A., working with others, can be subdivided into five parts, five words beginning with the letter ‘C’. Confidence, Confession, Conviction, Conversion, and Continuance. Faith and trust are synonyms of confidence. – Father Leo | More…

They can be analysed, counselled, reasoned with, prayed over, threatened, beaten, or locked up, but they will not stop until they want to stop. –Just For Today | More…

Each of the four directions has special powers. When we are centered, then we are ready to call the helpers.

It is said, when the student is ready, the teacher appears. If we are to be ready, we need to remember to always get quiet first. We do this by honouring and praying to the four directions. –Elders Meditations | More…

The life of service helps to keep me sober. I am the message that I share. And I do it for me! –Father Leo | More…

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We need to look at nature and its inhabitants as our brothers and sisters. Whenever we pick plants or herbs, we should leave an offering of tobacco.

We should talk to the plants and ask their permission to use them. The plants will feel honoured to be of service for each of them knows they are here to serve.

Each of them knows they carry a special medicine and this medicine is about continuing the cycle of life. We need always to be grateful to our brothers and sisters. –Elders Meditations | More…

As a newcomer I was told “we have to give it away in order to keep it.” I soon found it was a privilege to give to the Fellowship as an expression of the gratitude felt in my heart.

My love of God and of others became the motivating factor in my life, with no thought of return. I realize now that giving freely is God’s way of expressing Himself through me.  –Daily Reflections | More…

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Steps eleven and twelve enable us to become strong spiritual beings, and also to help those in need by sharing what we have learned with our higher power.

11, Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.

12,Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps, we tried to carry this message to [              ], and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

Step 12 is like step one in that the word “alcoholics” can be substituted for any problem or challenge one has in their own life. These final two steps help guide us on our spiritual path.

One of the greatest spiritual gifts we can offer is to help others, and to think less of ourselves. This process is a major stepping stone in surrendering to whatever problem you may be facing, and how to overcome it.

After 70 plus years of miraculous recovery in this and many other programs that have sprung from the original 12 steps in AA, it is truly amazing to witness the healing and comforting that happens if we surrender and work these steps. | More…

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Never talk down to an alcoholic from any moral or spiritual hilltop; simply lay out the kit of spiritual tools for his inspection. Show him how they worked with you. Offer him friendship and fellowship. –As Bill Sees It | More… (p.192)

I do not know what path in life you will take, but I do know this: If, on that path, you do not find a way to serve, you will never be happy. –Albert Schweitzer

Working the Twelfth Step means carrying the message of recovery to those who still suffer from our illness. To be a messenger of hope has to be the highest form of service we can provide to our fellows.

Giving service means more than volunteering to set chairs up at a meeting, tidying up afterwards, or giving another person a ride to the meeting. It’s not hiding my slips in abstinence, and it sure isn’t wallowing in my misery.

It’s getting up and moving on. It’s presenting a positive view of the program. We don’t recruit members to recovery; we attract them by our example. –One Day At A Time | More…

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Our Twelfth Step also says that as a result of practicing all the Steps, we have each found something called a spiritual awakening. To new A.A.’s, this often seems like a very dubious and improbable state of affairs.

There are as many definitions of spiritual awakening as there are people who have had them. But certainly each genuine one has something in common with all the others.

And these things which they have in common are not too hard to understand. When a man or a woman has a spiritual awakening, the most important meaning of it is that he has now become able to do, feel, and believe that which he could not do before on his unaided strength and resources alone. He has been granted a gift which amounts to a new state of consciousness and being. –12 & 12 p.106-107 | More…

Our very lives, as ex-problem drinkers, depend upon our constant thought of others and how we may help meet their needs. I was filled with self-pity, anger and resentment.

Then I learned that by helping others, with no thought of return, I could overcome this obsession with selfishness, and if I understood humility, I would know peace and serenity. –Daily Reflections | More…

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A.A.’s manner of making ready to receive this gift lies in the practice of the Twelve Steps in our program.  –12 & 12 p.107-108 | More…

Now, what about the rest of the Twelfth Step? The wonderful energy it releases and the eager action by which it carries our message to the next suffering alcoholic and which finally translates the Twelve Steps into action upon all our affairs is the payoff, the magnificent reality, of Alcoholics Anonymous. –12 & 12 p.109 | More…

Practically every A.A. member declares that no satisfaction has been deeper and no joy greater than in a Twelfth Step job well done. –12 & 12 p.110 | More…

The Twelfth Step is the cornerstone of recovery. We truly believe that “we can only keep what we have by giving it away.”

The paradox of the Twelfth Step is evident, for in giving, we receive. I am a living example of the Twelfth Step. I cannot “fail” when I try to carry the message to another addict. –Just For Today | More…

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The best intentioned of us can fall for the “two step” illusion. Sooner or later the pink cloud stage wears off and things go disappointingly dull.

We begin to think that A.A. doesn’t pay off after all. We become puzzled and discouraged. –12 & 12 p.113 | More…

We in A.A. must remember that we are offering something intangible. We are offering a psychological and spiritual program.

Every situation has two interpretations — your own and God’s. Try to handle each situation in the way you believe God would have it handled. –24Hours | More…

Our real purpose is to fit ourselves to be of maximum service to God and the people about us. God loved me enough to take me from alleys and jails so that I could be made a useful participant in His world.

My response is to love all of His children through service –12 & 12 p.113 | More…

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We should know that those who can help others are fortunate, well-favoured people.
Others may want to help, but lack the tools. We have the tools to give the help that changes lives, and the world. –Walk In Dry Places/Mel B. | More…

Then perhaps life, as it has a way of doing, suddenly hands us a great big lump that we
can’t begin to swallow, let alone digest. What then? –12 & 12 p.113 | More…

The closer we walk with our Higher Power, the more effective our Twelfth Step work is.
Mentioning what AA is doing for us may open the door to a new life for one of our friends.

Often, we may not know what effect, if any; our witness has had on another person. The results of our Twelfth Step work are in the hands of our Higher Power, and positive effects may show up long after we have planted a seed. –Food For Thought | More…

Though the earning power of most A.A.’s is relatively high, we have some members who never seem to get on their feet moneywise, and still others who encounter heavy financial reverses. Ordinarily we see these situations met with fortitude and faith. –12 & 12 p.114 | More…

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Like most people, we have found that we can take our big lumps as they come. But also like others, we often discover a greater challenge in the lesser and more continuous problems of life.

We had failed to see that though adult in years we were still behaving childishly, trying to turn everybody–friends, wives, husbands, even the world itself–into protective parents.

After we come into A.A., if we go on growing, our attitudes and actions toward security–emotional security and financial security–commence to change profoundly. Our demand for emotional security, for our own way, had constantly thrown us into unworkable relations with other people.

As we made spiritual progress, it became clear that if we ever were to feel emotionally secure among grown-up people, we would have to put our lives on a give-and-take basis; we would have to develop the sense of being in partnership or brotherhood with all those around us. –12 & 12 p.115-116 | More…

Our main problem is not how we are to stay married; it is how to be more happily married by eliminating the severe emotional twists that have so often stemmed from alcoholism.  –12 & 12 p.117 | More…

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The tremendous fact for every one of us is that we have discovered a common solution. We who have found this solution to our alcoholic problem, we who are properly armed with the facts about ourselves, can generally win the entire confidence of another alcoholic.

We who are making the approach to new prospects have had the same difficulty they have had. We obviously know what we are talking about. Our whole deportment shouts at new prospects that we are people with a real answer –24Hours | More…

Our purpose is scaled down to helping the person who still suffers. We have learned that we must be at peace with ourselves and others in order to live happily.

Living the Twelve Step way might have been our first experience in getting along with others. At some point, we may also find that we’re playing a part in the larger purpose of finding peace. –Walk In Dry Places/Mel B. | More…

When the distortion has been great, however, a long period of patient striving may be necessary. After the husband joins A.A., the wife may become discontented, even highly resentful that Alcoholics Anonymous has done the very thing that all her years of devotion had failed to do.  –12 & 12 p.118-119 | More…

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A.A. has many single alcoholics who wish to marry and are in a position to do so. Some marry fellow A.A.’s. How do they come out? On the whole these marriages are very good ones.

Compatibility, of course, can be so impossibly damaged that a separation may be necessary. But those cases are the unusual ones. The alcoholic, realizing what his wife has endured, persistently tries all of A.A.’s Twelve Steps in his home, often with fine results. –12 & 12 p.119 | More…

It has only been in the past few months that I have become interested in service work in AA. Before that, I was an AA barnacle, glued to my seat, criticizing the speakers and griping about the coffee. Now I’m on the other side of the squawks and bleeps, and I find, to my delight, I like it. –Tacoma, Wash., September 1974/”Service” / Grapevine | More…

Service means work we do for others.
The reason is simple.

Service to our Higher Power and to others breaks down our wanting to be self-centered.
Service breaks down the feeling of being alone that being self-centered brings. –Keep It Simple | More…

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We’re surrounded by people who need help-financial and otherwise. It is sometimes tempting to believe that we can and should reach out to improve the conditions of their lives.

The early AA members who tried this finally decided to limit most of their help simply to carrying the Twelve Step message. Many people are able to solve their own financial problems when they really understand and practice the twelve Step program.

In any case, we should always seek guidance and direction from our Higher Power when considering or offering any kind of assistance. We’ll then know that any support we give will be the right kind. –Walk In Dry Places/Mel B. | More…

When they see you know all about the drinking game, commence to describe yourself as an alcoholic and tell them how you learned you were sick.” Try not to give way to criticism, blame, scorn, or judgment of others, when you are trying to help them.

Go easy on them and be hard on yourself. And seek no personal recognition for what you are used by God to accomplish. –24Hours | More…

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Carry the message to other alcoholics.
You can help when no one else can.

You can secure their confidence when others fail.
Life will take on new meaning for you.

One secret of abundant living is the art of giving.
The paradox of life is that the more you give, the more you have.
If you lose your life in the service of others, you will save it.–24Hours 30/08 | More…

Outline the program of action to new prospects, explaining how you made a self-appraisal, how you straightened out your past, and why you are now endeavouring to help them. It is important for them to realize that your attempt to pass this on to them plays a vital part in your recovery.

The more hopeless they feel, the better. They will be more likely to follow your suggestions. Tell them about the fellowship of A.A. and if they show interest, lend them a copy of the Big Book –24Hours 02/09 | More..

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Service is how we give love away.
It’s the “self” of self-help.

Service is not a duty; a gift that’s been given to us.
We help ourselves by helping others.

We “carry the message.”
It’s just one way we see how important we are to others.

The world needs us.
The world needs our love. –Keep It Simple | More…

Showing others who suffer how we were given help is the very thing which makes life seem so worthwhile to us now. . . . The dark past is . . . the key to life and happiness for others. –Daily Reflections | More…

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You should always help others for no reason other than your own benefit. In helping others, we are only passing on the good that has come to us. –Walk In Dry Place/Mel B.  | More…

My drinking had so isolated me that it was as if I was in a cave. And my family, over the years, and my wife in particular, had stood outside that cave asking me to come out, and I couldn’t find my way out.

Finally Ebby showed up outside the cave, and after being captive in a similar cave, he entered mine – he knew the way – and he took me by the hand and led me out. One cave-dweller helping another.

And I knew that’s what I wanted to do; I wanted to help other people like myself. – Bill W.

Life will take on a new meaning, We know you will not want to miss it. Frequent contact with newcomers and with each other is the bright spot of our lives. –Big Book p89 | More…

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We recognize our spiritual growth when we are able to reach out and help others. All of us have had the gift of recovery shared with us by another recovering addict.

For that, we are grateful.
We express our gratitude by sharing freely with others what was given to us.

The individual message we carry may help a newcomer only we can reach. There are many ways to serve our fellowship.

Each of us will find that we do some things better than others, but all service work is equally important. If we are willing to serve, we’re sure to find that particular way to contribute that’s right for us. –Just for Today | More…

What has been given joyfully, with love, must be passed on without reservation and without expectation. For as I grow, I find that no matter how much I give with love, I receive much more in spirit. –Daily Reflections | More…

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Addiction’s best friends are shame and silence–without them, addiction couldn’t survive. The best gift for my child is to talk about addiction.

To bring addiction out into the light, to foster understanding and change.
To change the way people look at my son.

To change the way they interact with and treat him. Maybe letting go with love means letting go of the silence. –Tending Dandelions/Sandra Swenson | More…

Our real purpose is to fit ourselves to be of maximum service to God and the people about us. God loved me enough to take me from alleys and jails so that I could be made a useful participant in His world. My response is to love all of His children through service and by example. –Daily Reflections 03/08 | More…

Giving service is as important to our recovery as are abstinence and working the Steps. It includes everything from organizing materials at a face-to-face meeting to hosting meetings online.

It’s sharing our problems and our solutions on the loops, as well as sponsoring. Recovery is incomplete until it is shared by giving service to the program or to individuals.

It’s remarkable how service brings us closer together, allows us to make friends, helps to end our isolation and gives that feeling of self-worth and confidence that we so desperately need.  –One Day At A Time 19/09 | More…
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We do not just practice these principles in regard to our drinking problem.We practice them in ALL our affairs. We give our whole lives to God and we try to do His will in every respect. –24 Hours | More…

What we are, always carries a stronger message than what we say. However it works, there is a powerful message in one’s unspoken thoughts and feelings.

We can usually sense, for example, the mood of people in a room, even when little is being said. If we spend any time with others, they will soon know much about us even if we say little.

This silent communication may be the great secret of AA’s success in reaching those who still suffer. If we are living sober and want to help others, that’s the message we give out. That’s also a form of carrying the message. –Walk In Dry Places/Mel B. | More…

We don’t carry the message to others until we get to Step Twelve. Just as it takes time to build a home, it takes time to build a new way of life. We have a lifetime ahead of us, remember—the better we live our program, the better we help others. –Keep It Simple | More…

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Who really gives us our life?
Who really gives us our food and nurturing?

Who really allows us to be born? We are born through our parents who act as the vehicle of life for the Creator and Mother Earth.

Our parents take care of us for a little while and when we are ready we must leave them and be faithful to our true Father, the Creator, and our true Mother, the Earth. Then we need to be of service to the Creator and be respectful to Mother Earth. –Elders | More…

When reviewing my day I try to ask, “Did I have a chance to be a friend today and miss it?” “Did I have a chance to rise above a nasty situation and avoid it?”

“Did I have a chance to say ‘I’m sorry,’ and refuse to?” Just as I ask God for help with my alcoholism each day, I ask for help in extending my recovery to include all situations and all people! –Daily Reflections | More…

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We had failed to see that though adult in years we were still behaving childishly, trying to turn everybody–friends, wives, husbands, even the world itself–into protective parents. As we made spiritual progress, it became clear that if we ever were to feel emotionally secure among grown-up people, we would have to put our lives on a give-and-take basis; we would have to develop the sense of being in partnership or brotherhood with all those around us. –12 & 12 p.115-116 | More…

Service to others makes the world a good place. We alcoholics have a wonderful opportunity to contribute to the well-being of the world.

We have a common problem. We find a common answer.
We are uniquely equipped to help others with the same problem.

If sometimes there seems to be a shadow on your life and you feel out of sorts, remember that this is not the withdrawal of God’s presence, but only your own temporary unwillingness to realize it.  –24 Hours | More…

We sit in A.A. meetings and listen, not only to receive something ourselves, but to give the reassurance and support which our presence can bring. If our turn comes to speak at a meeting, we again try to carry A.A.’s message.  We may often pass through Twelfth Step experiences where we will seem to be temporarily off the beam.

These will appear as big setbacks at the time, but will be seen later as stepping-stones to better things. –12 & 12 p.110 | More…

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Can we now accept and adjust to either without despair or pride? Can we accept poverty, sickness, loneliness, and bereavement with courage and serenity?   –12 & 12 p.112 | More…

The best intentioned of us can fall for the “two step” illusion. Sooner or later the pink cloud stage wears off and things go disappointingly dull. We begin to think that A.A. doesn’t pay off after all. We become puzzled and discouraged. Then perhaps life, as it has a way of doing, suddenly hands us a great big lump that we can’t begin to swallow, let alone digest. What then? –12 & 12 p.113 | More…

Our basic troubles are the same as everyone else’s, but when an honest effort is made “to practice these principles in all our affairs,” well-grounded A.A.’s seem to have the ability, by God’s grace, to take these troubles in stride and turn them into demonstrations of faith. –12 & 12 p.114 | More…

Having experienced a psychic change that keeps us sober one day at a time, we are empowered to demonstrate the new principles by which we live. We remain in action in our daily life through example.

We seek out and are available to help others in need. We continue to carry the message of hope and recovery. We strive to help wherever we can even in the smallest, simple tasks of life. | More…

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Bill W. considered each step to be a spiritual principle in and of itself. The most important of these is Humility.

Core Spiritual Principles of the Program:  Willingness, Open-mindedness, Honesty. AA’s Code:  Love and Tolerance of Others.

The Principles of the Twelve Steps

Step One:            Honesty
Step Two:            Hope
Step Three:         Faith (Surrender)
Step Four:           Courage
Step Five:            Integrity
Step Six:              Willingness
Step Seven:         Humility
Step Eight:           Brotherly love
Step Nine:            Discipline
Step Ten:              Perseverance
Step Eleven:        Awareness
Step Twelve:       Service (Charity)

The relative success of the A.A. program seems to be due to the fact that an alcoholic who no longer drinks has an exceptional faculty for “reaching” and helping an uncontrolled drinker.

The heart of the suggested program of personal recovery is contained in Twelve Steps describing the experience of the earliest members of the Society.

The five principles of the Twelve Step Program are; membership requirement, spiritual basis, personal inventory, restitution, and helping others. | More…

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Being who we are and allowing our Higher Power to guide our actions are powerful ways to carry the message. The most powerful form of helping others comes down to helping ourselves.

When we do our own work and are honest and open about it, we impact others more than by our most well intentioned “helping” gesture. We cannot change others, but when we change ourselves, we may end up changing the world. –The Language of Letting Go/Melody Beattie 29/11 | More…

To renounce the alcoholic world is not to abandon it, but to act upon principles, and to restore in others who still suffer, the serenity I have come to know. When I am truly committed to this purpose, it matters little what clothes I wear or how I make a living.  My task is to carry the message, and to lead by example, not design. –Daily Reflections | More…

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Many of us feel that without NA we would surely have died from our disease.
Hence, its existence is our very lifeline. However, disunity is an occasional fact of life in Narcotics Anonymous;

We must learn to respond in a constructive way to the destructive influences that sometimes arise in our fellowship. If we decide to be part of the solution instead of the problem, we are headed in the right direction.

Service can bring out both the best and the worst in us. It is often through service that we begin to get in touch with some of our more pressing defects of character. Do we shrink from service commitments rather than face what we might find out about ourselves? –Just For Today | More…

There are limits to what we can do to help another addict. We are as powerless over another’s addiction as we are over our own. If we refuse to try to exert this power over another’s addiction, we may help them.

They can become the authority on their own lives, provided we are only authorities on our own. If we can accept all this, we can become what we were meant to be—carriers of the message, not the addict. –Just For Today | More…

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