Thursday, August 05, 2010

A.A.-Step 10: Teachings of Dr. Bob's Wife Anne Smith

We have recently covered Steps One through Nine of the Alcoholics Anonymous suggested steps for recovery. We did so by pointing out the applicable remarks on those topics by Anne Ripley Smith, wife of A.A. cofounder Dr. Bob, "Mother of A.A." as Bill Wilson called her, and one of the founders of Akron Number One--the first Alcoholics Anonymous group.

The primary source for those discussions and for this discussion of Step Ten is Dick B., Anne Smith's Journal 1933-1939: A.A.'s Principles of Success, 3rd ed. (Kihei, HI: Paradise Research Publications, Inc., 1998)--ISBN 1-885803-24-9. See

In each of the Twelve Steps, there is a strong indication of the role that Anne Smith played in formulating the step ideas with Bill W. and Dr. Bob. You can find this influence particularly in Anne Smith's Journal, from whose original notes Anne shared the A.A. ideas at the Smith home in Akron each morning with AAs and their families.

Now to what Anne wrote and shared as to the Tenth Step ideas of Alcoholics Anonymous. The subsequent suggestions in the Big Book speak about continuing to take personal inventory, and thus continuing to make a daily surrender. And here is what Anne said prior to the Big Book:

"Continuance. Stay with the newly surrendered person until he grows up and becomes a life-changer. Laugh him out of his growing pains. When he becomes a life-changer, we need not fear for him, because other people's needs will drive him back to God" (Anne Smith's Journal, 50-51).

"Be willing to live a day at a time, an hour at a time" (51)

"3. What are the symptoms of let down or compromise in myself? . . . 5. Are quiet times increasingly real? . . . 7. Is there some relationship I am content to leave where it is? 8. Am I giving the right nurture to those changed? . . . 13. How much better do I know my Bible this year than last? . . . 14. Is my reading guided?" (51)

"Be willing to ask God where I am failing and to admit sin. 1. Am I nicer to live with? 2. Better to work with? 3. More efficient with my job?" (51)

"Paderewski [the famous concert pianist]: If I go one day without practicing the piano, I notice it in my playing; if I go two days my friends notice it; if I go three days the audience notices it. . . Am I so living with God that Christ is being breathed around? You cannot sublimate an instinct that you don't recognize. You can't surrender sin if you don't admit it. A personal relationship with Jesus Christ depends on doing difficult things" (51).

"Willingness to maintain an antiseptic attitude with regard to personal situations while in the process of redemption. To be willing to face up that I alone am responsible for my attitude. Claim from God humility, patience, courage, faith, and love. These are gifts. We cannot qualify for them" (51).

"Let your waking thought be surrender, a 100% daily surrender" (51).

"After surrender [italics in original paper]: The difference is that when you discover sin and problems in your life, you know the answer, and you have the cure. There must be a focus of the issue when the mind is made up; then follows development. As we grow closer to Christ we keep seeing more sin, but we know the cure" (51-52).

"Continue in the faith. . . . and be not moved away from the hope of the Gospel. Colossians 1:23" (52).

"One of the weakneses of what may be termed the "Old Evangelism" of the mass type was the lack of continuance. It seemed to be taken for granted that a surrendered person would naturally be able to continue what he had begun and would henceforth know of himself what the steps of strengthening should be. The truth is that many many peopole reached by the mass method did discover and take these steps, but it is safe to say that the majority fell by the wayside. The Oxford Group Movement believes strongly in Continuance. It further believes that every person (surrendered) needs careful nurture and help in life changing" (52).

There is more, and it will be discussed at another time.

But let's highlight the Tenth Step ideas that Anne was teaching daily before there were any steps at all:

1. Continuance.
2. Daily surrender to God
3. Inventory "a day at a time."
4. The Bible is the guidebook; the guidance of God needs to be sought
5. A personal relationship with Jesus Christ is vital
6. The closer one moves toward Jesus Christ the more quickly sin is seen, but Christ is the cure.
7. Surrender is a daily task in order for development and strengthening to take place.
8. Salvation is the beginning and continued self-examination and nurture must follow.
9. Part of overcoming sin is admitting it--regularly.

The student of the Twelve Steps needs to see Step Ten in perspective. A careful examination of pages 84 and 85 of the Big Book will readily show how what Anne Smith taught in the early days found its way into the final three A.A. steps of recovery--beginning with Step 10.

Again, refer to Anne Smith's Journal 1933-1939 for further specifics and documentation Compare also Dick B., Twelve Steps for You: Take teh Twelve Steps with the Big Book, A.A. History, and the Good Book at Your Side. ISBN 1-885803-98-2

To get the entire beginnings of A.A. in perspective, be sure to acquire, see, and disseminate our new foundational class: "Introductory Foundations for Christian Recovery"

God Bless, Dick B.

1 comment:

Greene Street Letters said...

Thank you so much for your insight and willingness to share on line.
Michael Bynum