A little over three years ago, the Continental European Region (CER) elected me as one of its nominees for Trustee of the General Service Board (GSB) of Alcoholics Anonymous Great Britain, the service structure for AA in Great Britain and English-language AA on Continental Europe.
I had been somewhat reluctant to stand. CER had nominated me twice before and I thought that was enough. But I was encouraged by the outgoing Trustee, Nigel (who had been elected to serve as Board Chair) and others, and after more consideration, I decided to stand. Ultimately, I was appointed. Now in my final year in post, I’ve been asked to write about the experience—and possibly encourage those AA Trusted Servants in the region who are eligible to consider standing.
As I’ve written before, being a Trustee in one sense is like every service role I’ve ever undertaken in AA: it isn’t what I expected. That has been true from being a greeter to making coffee to Group Treasurer to GSR to Region Rep to Delegate to Conference Chair to Region Chair.
And everything in between.
This, for me, also reflects AA; it was not what I expected—and it has been beyond anything I ever could have imagined.
Service in AA is like that. Mostly it has been better than I thought it would be. Always it has been challenging. It can be exhausting. But it has made me a better AA member, a better person, a better partner, a better worker.
I’ve come to understand what it means for the Board to be at the bottom of our inverted service triangle, a few levels below the groups, where the ultimate authority in AA lies. Trusted Servants move down the triangle, not up a ladder. For someone like me, who has so often tried to run my life—including my AA life—on the basis of personal ambition, coming to this understanding has been another spiritual experience.
So what does a Trustee do, down there at the bottom? We attend a lot of meetings—four Board meetings, a Board workshop, at least four Board Sub-Committee and / or Committee meetings every year. Plus the General Service Conference. Plus additional travel (or, more recently, Zoom meetings) as needed.
We look at spreadsheets and financial reports. We give and listen to a lot of reports. We receive a lot of emails. We get asked a lot of questions. We facilitate the work of sub-committees. We are responsible for carrying out the group conscience recommendations and decisions of the Fellowship as determined by Conference. We attend our region meetings. We work to ensure that the legal responsibilities of the registered charity are fulfilled.
And as individual AA members we do our best to continue the most important service in Alcoholics Anonymous—to carry AA’s message of recovery to alcoholics. That is our primary purpose—job one—to carry the message. Everything else is to help serve that purpose.
It is now time for CER to elect nominees to succeed me as the Trustee from our region. We plan to do so in June—the first step in the process of a new Trustee being appointed.
Do you have at least ten years of continuous sobriety—or will you by the close of next year’s Conference? Will you have attended three Conferences as a Delegate (or once as an Alternate and twice as Delegate)? Do you have and are you willing and able to commit to the time (and travel) required?
Do you have a good understanding of how the Traditions and Concepts serve our Fellowship and flow through our structure?
If so, please consider sticking your hand up. If you’re intrigued or thinking about it, get in touch and I’ll answer your questions about my experience.
I can make only a few promises to the person who is eventually appointed:
- It will be a lot of work.
- It will challenge and surprise you.
- You will make extraordinary new AA friends.
- And, of course, it won’t be what you expected—which, in AA service, is usually a good thing.
General Service Board Trustee