Christians can learn from AA

A Word to the Wise
By: Tom Rupp
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Perhaps you are familiar with the fine organization known as Alcoholics Anonymous. Their numerous meetings are designed to help those who struggle with that particular addiction. I have attended meetings as a support for others who asked me to go with them and it has always been a positive experience. I will not detail the 12 steps here. You can go online and find them. Suffice it say that for many people they are positive tools to help in healing. Along with the 12 steps there are also 12 traditions. Tradition No. 11 states, “Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion; we need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio and films.” For me the No. 1 rule in counseling is confidentiality. I have never betrayed a confidence and I never will. Having said that, let me relate a lesson or two learned from AA meetings. One of the starkest realities you will see at a meeting is acceptance — total and unconditional acceptance. What counts is that you are there. You showed up. That is the first big step. Another thing that stands out to me is transparency. You state what you feel, you state what you have done and you go from there. Sure, one of the cardinal values is anonymity. But they do not value hypocrisy. I have always left a meeting feeling closer to God, to myself, to others and to plain reality. And then I got to thinking, “This is what church should be like. This is how I should feel when I go to church.” That is not always the case. How would it be in your church if you stood up next Sunday and said, “Hi, my name is (insert your name here) and I am a sinner,” and then proceeded to detail your sins? Yet James 5:16 instructs us to “confess our faults to one another.” You see, we all have our issues. In case you are reading fast, let me repeat — we all have our issues. This includes your typical pew sitters to the teachers, deacons, leaders and pastors — all of us. Alcohol may not be my problem but there are other poisons out there. As the old saying goes, “pick your poison.” Christians have a lot to learn from AA. One of the mantras in AA is “it works if you work it.” James 1:22 says, “Be a doer of the Word.” In that sense, we are all in the same room. You can reach Tom Rupp at or