I’ve mentioned before that although I am not in a 12 step program, I greatly admire and think everyone could learn from them. Recently I was looking at the steps, and I realized that like the Ten Commandments, they are all about having a right relationship with God and with others. Here they are:
- We admitted we were powerless over alcohol–that our lives had become unmanageable. (Note: substitute here sin in general and we all have this problem)
- Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. (In other words, God is God, and we’re not.)
- Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him. (Giving God His rightful place in our lives, being in right relationship with Him)
- Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves. (Christians call this an examination of conscience)
- Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs. (This would be confession)
- Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
- Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
- Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all. (Now we are getting to our relationships with others)
- Made direct amends to such people whenever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
- Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
- Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God (keeping our relationship strong) praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
- Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message(read Good News) to alcoholics (read sinners) and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
The 12 step programs succeed because they teach the importance of putting our relationships in order. First must come our relationship with God. We must accept that God and His will must take first place in our lives. Then we must confess our sins against Him and against our fellow humans and take responsibility to correct things. Finally, we must acknowledge that this is no quick or one-time fix … we must be constantly vigilant and work at our relationships continually AND we must help others by passing along what we have learned.
It’s humbling and also enlightening to read through these steps. As Christians, we all admit we’re sinners, but are we willing to admit that we are POWERLESS over sin without God? (We really don’t like to think of ourselves this way) Are we ready and willing to ask God to REMOVE our shortcomings? (I think there are lots of sins we like to hold on to). We may confess every week in church, but do we honestly make efforts to MAKE AMENDS to the people we’ve injured? (Personally, I’d rather try to ignore my bad behavior and hope everyone will eventually forget it) Do we really try to CHANGE AND IMPROVE our relationships with God and others? (Or are we too lazy to make that effort). Do we CARE enough about other people to pass the gospel on to them? (If we really believe in it, we should).
This gives me a lot to think about. How about you?