“Step 12: Service,” Addiction Recovery Program: A Guide to Addiction Recovery and Healing (2005), 71–76
“Step 12,” Addiction Recovery Program, 71–76
Service will help you grow in the light of the Spirit throughout the rest of your life. In step 10, you learned to evaluate your life each day and to be accountable for your actions. In step 11, you learned to remember the Savior from moment to moment so you might have the guidance of the Holy Ghost as continuously as possible. Step 12 involves the third anchor—service to others—that ensures a continued recovery and a remission of sin.
To remain free of addiction, you must get outside yourself and serve. The desire to help others is a natural result of spiritual awakening.
You have a message of hope for other addicts, for all afflicted and troubled people who are willing to consider a spiritual approach to changing their lives, and for anyone seeking truth and righteousness. The message is that God is a God of miracles, just as He has always been (see Moroni 7:29). Your life proves that. You are becoming a new person through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. You will share this message best through your efforts to serve others. As you serve, your understanding and knowledge of this process is strengthened and deepened.
Sharing your testimony of His mercy and His grace is one of the most important services you can offer. Bearing the burdens of others through acts of kindness and selfless service is part of your new life as a follower of Christ (see Mosiah 18:8).
President Ezra Taft Benson taught: “Men and women who turn their lives over to God will discover that He can make a lot more out of their lives than they can. He will deepen their joys, expand their vision, quicken their minds, strengthen their muscles, lift their spirits, multiply their blessings, increase their opportunities, comfort their souls, raise up friends, and pour out peace. Whoever will lose his life in the service of God will find eternal life” (“Jesus Christ—Gifts and Expectations,” Ensign, Dec. 1988, 4).
Be prayerful as you consider ways to serve, seeking always to be led by the Holy Ghost. If you are willing, you will find many opportunities to share the spiritual principles you have learned. You will find ways to share your testimony with others and opportunities to serve them in many other ways. As you serve others, you will maintain humility by focusing on the gospel principles and practices you have learned. Only then can you be assured that your motives and inspiration are good. Be sure to give freely, not expecting a particular result. Respect the agency of others. Remember that most of us had to “hit bottom” before we were ready to study and apply these principles. The same will be true for most of those you desire to help.
When you become aware of others who deal with addiction in their lives or the lives of their loved ones, you may want to let them know about this guide and the LDS Family Services Addiction Recovery Program. If they feel like talking, let them. Tell some of your story to let them know that you can relate. Don’t give advice or try to fix them in any way. Simply inform them of the program and the spiritual principles that have blessed your life.
You may discover that if an addict is not ready to embrace these spiritual principles, perhaps a family member or friend of the addict may be receptive. Virtually everyone living in these perilous times could benefit by learning and applying gospel principles. You may occasionally feel inspired to offer someone a copy of this guide along with a Book of Mormon. In doing so, you will actually share the tools that have helped you rebuild your life by coming to Christ.
When you do something for someone else or share the message of hope and recovery, you must not allow another person to become too dependent on you. Your responsibility is to encourage others who struggle to turn to Heavenly Father and the Savior for guidance and power. In addition, you should not be reluctant to encourage them to turn to the Lord’s authorized servants as well. Great blessings can come from the Lord through those who hold priesthood keys.
As you try to help others, you must understand that it will be difficult for them to remain in recovery if family members do not support them or do not understand that recovery takes time. Anyone can recover, however, no matter how others—even closest loved ones—choose to react.
As you carry to others the message of recovery through gospel principles, you must be patient and meek. There is no place in your new life for ego or any sense of superiority. Never forget where you have come from and how you have been rescued by the grace of God. Jesus Christ will do the same “in all cases” for those who will repent and turn to Him (Mosiah 29:20).
In your enthusiasm to help others, be sure to keep a balance between sharing the message and working on your own program. Your primary focus must continue to be to apply these principles yourself. Your efforts to share these ideas with others will be only as effective as the recovery you maintain.
These principles you have learned and practiced to overcome your addiction are the same principles that will lead you in all aspects of your life to act according to the Lord’s plan. Using these principles of the gospel, you can endure to the end as the Lord has commanded and you can do so with joy.
Your testimony of the love and mercy of Heavenly Father and His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, is no longer a theory. It has become a living reality. You have experienced it for yourself. As you have become aware of His love for you, you have also become aware of His love for others.
President Howard W. Hunter taught, “Those of us who have partaken of the Atonement are under obligation to bear faithful testimony of our Lord and Savior” (“The Atonement and Missionary Work,” seminar for new mission presidents, June 21, 1994, 2).
Bear testimony to your family in word and deed in the privacy of your own home. Bear testimony in regular family home evenings, family prayer, and family scripture study. Bear testimony as you join with your family in service projects and as you live your life in a Christlike way. You can also bear testimony in Church settings, such as in fast and testimony meetings or in classes or while giving Church service.
Magnify the Church callings you receive. If you do not have responsibilities in your ward or stake, let your bishop know that you are available to serve. You can also bless others by participating in family history work and by preparing to worship and serve in the temple and to make covenants there with the Lord. President Gordon B. Hinckley taught, “Temple service is the end product of all of our teaching and activity” (in Conference Report, Oct. 2005, 3; or Ensign, Nov. 2005, 4). The principles taught in this guide will lead you to the temple; they will increase your desire to serve there.
Although you may not have thought it possible before, you can now imagine entering the doors of the holy temple, drinking deeply of the peace there, and feeling close to the Lord in His house. In the temple, you will find spiritual power to continue in your recovery. Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin of the Quorum of the Twelve testified: “Regular temple work can provide spiritual strength. It can be an anchor in daily life, a source of guidance, protection, security, peace, and revelation” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1992, 123; or Ensign, May 1992, 88).
The LDS Family Services Addiction Recovery Program offers great opportunities for service. You can serve others by attending meetings and sharing your experience, faith, and hope. You can support others and strengthen them.
As you have practiced the principles of the gospel, you have learned that the Atonement applies in every aspect of life. President Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles testified: “For some reason we think the Atonement of Christ applies only at the end of mortal life to redemption from the Fall, from spiritual death. It is much more than that. It is an ever-present power to call upon in everyday life. When we are racked or harrowed up or tormented by guilt or burdened with grief, He can heal us” (in Conference Report, Apr. 2001, 28; or Ensign, May 2001, 23).
You can share this message with others through your example and your words of encouragement. When you meet people throughout the day, greet them with a smile. Show gratitude for what they do. When opportunities arise, bear testimony of the hope that comes through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.
The scriptures and the teachings of Church leaders will help you continue your recovery. Study the following scriptures and statements. Use them for prayerful meditation, personal study, and group discussion.
“Converted means to turn from one belief or course of action to another. Conversion is a spiritual and moral change. Converted implies not merely mental acceptance of Jesus and his teachings but also a motivating faith in him and his gospel—a faith which works a transformation, an actual change in one’s understanding of life’s meaning and in his allegiance to God in interest, in thought, and in conduct” (Marion G. Romney, in Conference Report, Guatemala Area Conference 1977, 8).
The Savior counseled Peter to strengthen his brethren after he was converted (see Luke 22:32). Write about President Romney’s definition of conversion and how it applies to your experience in recovery.
How do you feel about strengthening others as they recover from addictive behaviors?
“Be not weary in well-doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work. And out of small things proceedeth that which is great” (D&C 64:33).
Write about the feelings you have when you think of living these principles in all aspects of your life. How does it help to realize that great works are done in small steps?
“This is my glory, that perhaps I may be an instrument in the hands of God to bring some soul to repentance; and this is my joy.
“And behold, when I see many of my brethren truly penitent, and coming to the Lord their God, then is my soul filled with joy; then do I remember what the Lord has done for me, yea, even that he hath heard my prayer; yea, then do I remember his merciful arm which he extended towards me” (Alma 29:9–10).
We have learned that it is critical to recovery to be willing to share our testimonies of these principles. How will sharing your experience help you remain strong in your recovery?
“[As ye] are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death, that ye may be redeemed of God, and be numbered with those of the first resurrection, that ye may have eternal life—
“Now I say unto you, if this be the desire of your hearts, what have you against being baptized in the name of the Lord, as a witness before him that ye have entered into a covenant with him, that ye will serve him and keep his commandments, that he may pour out his Spirit more abundantly upon you?” (Mosiah 18:9–10).
Your experience with addiction helps you empathize with those who struggle with addiction; your experience in recovery helps you comfort them. Write about your increased desire and your ability to stand as a witness of God since you have followed the steps of recovery.
“The Redeemer chose imperfect men to teach the way to perfection. He did so then; He does so now” (Thomas S. Monson, in Conference Report, Apr. 2004, 19; or Ensign, May 2004, 20).
Sometimes we wonder if we are ready to share recovery with others because we are not yet practicing these principles perfectly. How does it quiet your fears to realize that the Savior works through imperfect people?
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth” (Romans 1:16).
Write your thoughts and feelings as you look back and consider that it took a spiritual experience to help you overcome your addiction. Write about any feelings of reluctance you may have to tell others that you were healed by applying the principles of the gospel of Christ.
“Go your way whithersoever I will, and it shall be given you by the Comforter what you shall do and whither you shall go.
“Pray always, lest you enter into temptation and lose your reward.
“Be faithful unto the end, and lo, I am with you. These words are not of man nor of men, but of me, even Jesus Christ, your Redeemer, by the will of the Father” (D&C 31:11–13).
The scriptures are full of guidance for those who wish to maintain a spiritual way of life that will lead them back to God. What specific guidance do you find in these verses?