Friday, October 15, 2010

A.A.-Step 12-Teachings of Dr. Bob's Wife

If you wonder where our Twelfth Step ideas came from, it would be a good idea to ask the wife of the man (Dr. Bob) whom Bill Wilson called "the Prince of all Twelfth-Steppers." Dr. Bob was the man of action who helped more than 5000 drunks without charge. All the while, Dr. Bob's wife, Anne Ripley Smith, was journaling and teaching the co-founders, their wives, and their families the principles of "Working with Others" that were to become the heart of A.A.'s outreach.

Let's just review a few of the statements that Anne Smith made in her personal journal that she wrote from 1933-1939. The citations are from my book, Dick B., Anne Smith's Journal, 1933-1939. See

Here are some of the things Anne taught to the little group of A.A. pioneers and their families who gathered each morning for a Quiet Time led at the Smith Home in Akron by Dr. Bob's wife, Anne Smith:

"Giving Christianity away is the best way to keep it" (69)

"We can't give away what we haven't got" (69)

"When we have that [a general experience of God], witnessing to it is natural, just as we want to share a beautiful sunset. . . . Share with people--don't preach; don't argue. Don't talk up nor down to people. Talk to them, and share in terms of their own experiences, speak on their level" (69)

"People reveal themselves and their problems by: 1. Silence. A sudden silence indicates that you have touched some real problem. 2. Talkativeness. Sometimes they filibuster so that you know they would not talk so much unless there was something they didn't want to say. 3. Nervousness. That goes back to some unsurrendered, unshared thing in their lives. Nervousness generally comes from an inner conflict,. Watch the hand. You will be able to see that this person is hopelesslydivided inside; a divided personality. Criticism. In order not only to answer criticism, but to meet the needs of others, we must acquire the knowledge, first, that's what the Groups teach is biblical; second, of what psychology teaches. It is sometimes difficult to answer criticism because it has to do not onlywith our own mistakes, but with things beyond our control. . ." (69-70)

"In the early stages, win confidence. Think of meeting the other person's needs. If you have a aense that something in him is not shared, it will block progress in meeting his real needs" (71)

"Confidence. We need to make friends with people first. Get a person to talk about his interest. Reverence what other people reverence. Don't stifle the truth they have, but lead on from that. . . . Learn to feel at home with all sorts of people. Learn to intrigue people with stories of individual lives that have been changed. Tell a business man how a business man has been changed; and how he finds it works in his business" (70).

There is more, and we will write more. But those of us who cherish working with newcomers will find ideas we use already, ideas that have parallels in the Big Book, and ideas that we can add to our arsenal of personal work techniques.

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