Issue #21: A Very Odd Piece of Advice
I am 37 years old. I have been sober from drugs and alcohol for 16 years. You might say I bloomed early in my addiction. I quit early too. I had enough by age 21.
I started going to Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings when I sixteen years old. I had to. The judge made me. But then after I got sober, I went voluntarily. I don’t go much anymore, but over the years, I have been to a lot of meetings. While I have a lot of theological problems with AA, I will also say it has helped me a great deal. The 12 steps, believe it or not, were developed from Scripture. Don’t believe me? Look it up. They were.
Here’s my very odd suggestion to you: go to an AA meeting. Go to a meeting, meet some of the people, drink the coffee, listen to them, and, if you feel so bold, speak up and share. Now, I will warn you, when you don’t introduce yourself as alcoholic, (“Hi, I am Brandon, I am an alcoholic), they’re going to think you’re in denial, unless of course you tell them you’re just visiting.
Now, why in the world would I tell you to go an AA meeting? Has Brandon veered away from biblical truth and sufficiency? Not hardly. Here are five reasons you should attend an AA meeting.
Perspective. In the rooms of AA, we say if you start to get a “poor me” attitude because life just isn’t fair, eventually you will say, “Poor me. Poor me. Pour me another drink.” Pastors and ministry leaders tend to isolate in the name of work. When we do so, we begin to contemplate our problems. When that happens, our mole hills become mountains. Go to an AA meeting and you will get perspective. You will meet men facing prison time, women who have been abused, people are literally fighting for their lives. When you get perspective like that, your problems won’t seem so big. In fact, I guarantee that you will walk away with more gratitude.
Evangelism. AA is a great place to make relationships and do evangelism. It is literally a room full of non-Christians (primarily) who are looking for a spiritual solution for their problems. They’re looking for community. Some of them are even praying to God. Pastor, you have the answer to their problem in the gospel! Take advantage.
Learning. Believe it or not, if you go to a meeting, you might actually learn something. Old time AA members have a lot of wisdom, even if they aren’t Christians. They have learned how to practically apply spiritual principles to everyday life. For example, did you know if you place expectations on people, you are planning to be angry when they let you down? I learned that in AA. I also learned that when I am resentful towards someone and wish them harm, it is like drinking poison and hoping the other person dies. Point being, there are a lot of nuggets of wisdom in those rooms.
Preaching. The longer you engage in AA, the more it will enrich your preaching. You will have a different understanding of people. It is a learning practicum on biblical anthropology. You will understand the struggles of unchurched people.
- Humility. Going to these meetings will bring you low, especially if you humble yourself and share. Sharing is when you take time speak during the meeting. You will find that many of your struggles are their struggles. You just choose to deal with yours differently.
I want to lay out some final disclaimers. One, as I already stated, I don’t agree with AA’s theology. It’s a religious group that poses as a secular organization. They definitely encourage belief in God, but it’s not the God of the Bible. So, watch out for that. Also, you will hear some crazy things when people share. Don’t expect sound theology. And finally, make sure you don’t go to a closed meeting. A closed meeting is for members of AA only. To be a member you must a have desire to stop drinking alcohol. Maybe you do. I don’t know, but I also don’t want you to get into an awkward situation. Make sure the meeting is open to the public. Then pray, go and see what God does.
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