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Step 12 – Service – Principled Recovery Series



“Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.”

This final step encourages people in recovery to help others in their recovery as well. It’s common for recovering clients to go on to sponsor others once they themselves have completed the 12 steps. By giving away the gift of recovery, they are better able to keep it themselves. The spiritual principles behind this step are love and service.

A SOZO Client’s Point of View: 

“Since becoming involved with spiritual recovery at SOZO, I had always appreciated thinking of Jesus as a “servant leader”. I respected managers in business who saw their roles as being of service to those they supervised. So, the concept of service was not new to me. However, until I reached SOZO, I never thought of service as the “love of my fellow man”. It struck me that, if I had never been of any real service to others, that might suggest that I didn’t love people as Jesus would want me to love others. I thought about my life and realized that there was a huge difference in my thinking and behaviors before taking the steps and after taking them.” Thinking about my life before recovery caused a chill to come over me. It was the harsh realization of how empty my life once was. 

Had I not come to know God as I now knew him, this harsh awareness might have stopped me dead in my tracks. But I had come to believe that, with Christ, all things were possible. And that meant that even I, who never really knew how to love with deep intimacy and sincerity, could learn how to open my heart to others as never before.

For years I had heard the saying, “God will not bring you to it if he can’t bring you through it.” Suddenly I saw that these 12 steps represent the means by which God will bring me through it!  And practicing these principles in all my affairs and being of service to others is the fuel that keeps this spiritual engine running.

Filled with hope and anticipation, I eagerly went again to the table of contents to look at step 12. 

It read: “joy of living is the theme of the twelfth step. Action is the keyword. Giving that asks no reward. Love that has no price tag. What is spiritual awakening? A new state of consciousness and being is received as a gift. Readiness to receive a gift lies in the practice of the twelve steps. The magnificent reality. Rewards of helping other alcoholics. Kinds of twelfth step work. Problems of twelfth step work. What about the practice of these principles in all our affairs? Monotony, pain, and calamity turned to good use by the practice of steps. Difficulties of practice. “two-stepping”. Switch to “twelve stepping” and demonstrations of faith. Growing spiritually is the answer to our problems. Placing spiritual growth first. Domination and overdependence. Putting our lives on a give-and-take basis. Dependence upon God necessary to recovery of alcoholics. “practicing these principles in all our affairs.”: domestic relations in A.A.  outlook upon material matters changes. So do feelings about personal importance. Instincts restored to true purpose. Understanding is key to right attitudes, right action is key to good living. “

If I had to choose one single piece of recovery literature to take on a journey, it would be the above paragraph.

Of course, since coming to SOZO, I’d also like to take my bible”.


Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) defines the 12 Steps as “a set of principles, spiritual in nature, when practiced as a way of life, that can expel the obsession to drink (or use drugs) and enable the sufferer to become happily and usefully whole.”

The 12 steps are a process of getting honest with yourself, cleaning up the wreckage of your past, and learning how to live your life in a better, more meaningful & principled way. Based on the idea of God as each individual understands him, the 12 steps are generally spiritual in nature. 

In this article series, we examine each of the 12 step principles from a  SOZO client’s perspective, as they journey through the twelve steps. Through direct survey feedback, we’ll join various clients and their growing awareness of the spiritual principles behind each step in this series of articles.