Tradition Two (Short): For our group purpose there is but one ultimate authority — a loving God as He may express Himself in our group conscience. Our leaders are but trusted servants; they do not govern.
Tradition Two (Long): For our group purpose there is but one ultimate authority-a loving God as He may express Himself in our group conscience. (A.A. 12&12:189)
CA NewsGram, 3rd Quarter 2011, Vol. 28 No.3 “Trusted Servants, Our Leaders”
In Tradition Two we rely on God to be present in our group conscience decisions. As we carry out these decisions at all levels of the fellowship we rely on our trusted servants who have been given this responsibility. These trusted servants who have been elected by the group conscience as stated in the tradition are expected to be leaders. Leadership to the fellowship is imperative in order to carry out the Fifth Tradition, which states: “to carry the message to the addict who still suffers”.
A true Trusted Servant Leader needs to present a positive capable attitude, presenting to the group with all the information at hand. But, they cannot dictate in any authoritarian way. After presenting all of the information to the fellowship a decision is made by the God driven group conscience.
Finally, a true Trusted Servant Leader needs to follow the principles of the program to the best of their ability. The true Trusted Servant Leader is one who through example guides the fellowship to benefit the action of the Fifth Tradition “to carry the message to the addict who still suffers”.
AA, Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, P. 135
Does AA have any real leadership?” Most emphatically the answer is “Yes, notwithstanding the apparent lack of it.” Let’s turn again to the deposed founder and his friends. What becomes of them? As their grief and anxiety wear away, a subtle change begins. Ultimately they divide into two classes known in AA slang as “elder statesmen” and “bleeding deacons.” The elder statesman is the one who sees the wisdom of the group’s decision, who holds no resentment over his reduced status, whose judgment, fortified by considerable experience, is sound, and who is willing to sit quietly on the sidelines patiently waiting developments. The bleeding deacon is one just as surely convinced that the group cannot get along without him, who constantly connives for reelection to office, and who continues to be consumed with self-pity. Some hemorrhage so badly that-—drained of all AA spirit and principle–they get drunk. At times the AA landscape seems to be littered with bleeding forms. Nearly every old-timer in our society has gone through this process in some degree. Happily, most of them survive and live to become elder statesmen. They become the real and permanent leadership of AA. Theirs is the quiet opinion, the sure knowledge and humble example that resolves a crisis. When sorely perplexed, the group inevitably turns to them for advice. They become the voice of the group conscience; in fact, these are the sure voice of Alcoholics Anonymous. They do not drive by mandate, they lead by example. Such is the experience which has led us to the conclusion that our group conscience, well-advised by its elders, will be in the long run wiser than any single leader.
C.A. World Service Manual 2023-01-23 Edition p. 15
“The principle of consistent rotation of responsibility is followed by all C.A. service positions. The spirit of rotation is a vital principle within our service structure which allows for non successive terms on all service positions. This enables more members to experience the true nature of service. Positions in the Service Structure are rotated according to a vote of the Service Structure. Representatives to the local service organization are voted on at the Service Structure level according to a schedule defined by each Service Structure. Officers of the service organization are elected based on the group conscience of that organization.”
CA Pamphlet: The 7th Tradition
According to Tradition Two, “Our leaders are but trusted servants; they do not govern.” Once our term of commitment has expired, we step down and a successor is elected.
AA, Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, P. 134
“…the group now has a so called rotating committee, very sharply limited in its authority. In no sense whatever can its members govern or direct the group. They are servants. Theirs is the sometimes thankless privilege of doing the group’s chores…The committee gives no spiritual advice, judges no one’s conduct, issues no orders. Every one of them may be promptly eliminated at the next election if they try this. And so they make the belated discovery that they are really servants, not senators. These are universal experiences. Thus throughout AA does the group conscience decree the terms upon which its leaders shall serve.”
Clarifying Questions and Answers:
Q: For each group there is only one what?
A: One ultimate authority—a loving God as He may express Himself in our group conscience.
Q: How may this ultimate authority express itself?
A: In our group conscience.
Q: What are our leaders to be?
A: Trusted Servants.
Q: What must our leaders not do?
- Do I trust the group process, including group conscience, sharing, decisions, voting, elections, etc.?
- Am I willing to do CA service work?
- Do I accept responsibility for my 12-step work and my CA commitments?
- Do I ever perform service work anonymously?
- Am I able to support a majority decision opposed to my own?
- Do I feel the group conscience is informed?
- Do I refrain from sounding off on subjects about which I know nothing?
- Am I able to perform CA service work without seeking personal reward?
- Do I practice rotating leadership, stepping out of office regardless if I believe others are not available, not willing and not qualified or do I remain frozen in office?