daily reflection: laying down your life for your friends

Good Shepherds are willing to lay down their lives for their sheep (see John 10:11). As spiritual leaders walking in the footsteps of Jesus, we are called to lay down our lives for our people. This laying down might in special circumstances mean dying for others. But it means, first of all, making our own lives – our sorrows and joys, our despair and hope, our loneliness and experience of intimacy – available to others as sources of new life.

One of the greatest gifts we can give others is ourselves. We offer consolation and comfort, especially in moments of crisis, when we say: “Do not be afraid, I know what you are living and I am living it with you. You are not alone.” Thus we become Christ-like shepherds.

daily reflection: the “number one” offender

Resentment is the “number one” offender. It destroys more alcoholics than anything else. From it stem all forms of spiritual disease, for we have been not only mentally and physically ill, we have been spiritually sick.

— ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS, p. 64

As I look at myself practicing the Fourth Step, it is easy to gloss over the wrong that I have done, because I can easily see it as a question of “getting even” for a wrong done to me. If I continue to relive my old hurt, it is a resentment and resentment bars the sunlight from my soul. If I continue to relive hurts and hates, I will hurt and hate myself-. After years in the dark of resentments, I have found the sunlight. I must let go of resentments; I cannot afford them.

From the book Daily Reflections
Copyright © 1990 by Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc.

henri nouwen: the authority of compassion

Mostly we think of people with great authority as higher up, far away, hard to reach. But spiritual authority comes from compassion and emerges from deep inner solidarity with those who are “subject” to authority. The one who is fully like us, who deeply understands our joys and pains or hopes and desires, and who is willing and able to walk with us, that is the one to whom we gladly give authority and whose “subjects” we are willing to be.

It is the compassionate authority that empowers, encourages, calls forth hidden gifts, and enables great things to happen. True spiritual authorities are located in the point of an upside-down triangle, supporting and holding into the light everyone they offer their leadership to.

daily reflection: giving up insanity

. . . where alcohol has been involved, we have been strangely insane.

— ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS, p. 38

Alcoholism required me to drink, whether I wanted to or not. Insanity dominated my life and was the essence of my disease. It robbed me of the freedom of choice over drinking and, therefore, robbed me of all other choices. When I drank, I was unable to make effective choices in any part of my life and life became unmanageable.

I ask God to help me understand and accept the full meaning of the disease of alcoholism.

daily meditation: authority and obedience

Authority and obedience can never be divided, with some people having all the authority while others only have to obey. This separation causes authoritarian behaviour on the one side and doormat behaviour on the other. It perverts authority as well as obedience. A person with great authority who has nobody to be obedient to is in great spiritual danger. A very obedient person who has no authority over anyone is equally in danger.

Jesus spoke with great authority, but his whole life was complete obedience to his Father, and Jesus, who said to his Father, “Let it be as you, not I, would have it” (Matthew 26:39), has been given all authority in heaven and on earth (see Matthew 28:18). Let us ask ourselves: Do we live our authority in obedience and do we live our obedience with authority?

daily reflection: a word to drop — “blame”

To see how erratic emotions victimized us often took a long time. We could perceive them quickly in others, but only slowly in ourselves. First of all, we had to admit that we had many of these defects, even though such disclosures were painful and humiliating. Where other people were concerned, we had to drop the word “blame” from our speech and thought.

— TWELVE STEPS AND TWELVE TRADITIONS, p. 47

When I did my Fourth Step, following the Big Book guidelines, I noticed that my grudge list was filled with my prejudices and my blaming others for my not being able to succeed and to live up to my potential. I also discovered I felt different because I was black. As I continued to work on the Step, I learned that I always had drunk to rid myself of those feelings. It was only when I sobered up and worked on my inventory, that I could no longer blame anyone.