Having had a spiritual experience as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to others, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
Step 12, the last step in the Celebrate Recovery program—giving back, sharing the message, serving. What’s the big deal?
If you are anything like I was when I entered recovery, I didn’t think that God could use me, and I didn’t want to be used by Him. I was too busy and selfish. I thought serving was for other people—you know the ones—the people with the cheerful attitude and the really ‘godly’ people.
When I did finally sign up to serve, it was because I felt guilty after one of those Sunday messages where the pastor asked people to serve. My spouse was serving in the children’s ministry so I decided to join him. I didn’t really have the patience to be around children and my heart wasn’t in it. It eventually led to resentment, and I stopped serving altogether. It was then that I learned that 1 Corinthians 9:7 wasn’t just a scripture about monetary giving to the church:
“Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”
Shortly after that phase of my walk with Christ, I started attending Celebrate Recovery. I was hungry for spiritual growth and healing, but not interested in serving. During my first year in recovery, I read The Purpose Driven Life, by Rick Warren. I learned that God uniquely shaped me for serving, with my Spiritual gifts, Heart, Abilities, Personality and Experiences (SHAPE). I had to figure out how. There are many assessments and tools that one can take to help figure out how we are wired, such as Myers-Briggs (MBTI) and Gallup Strength Finders.
Rick Warren goes on to say:
“God intentionally allows you to go through painful experiences to equip you for ministry to others. The Bible says, ‘who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.’ (2 Corinthians 1:4)
If you really desire to be used by God, you must understand a powerful truth: The very experiences that you have resented or regretted most in life—the ones you’ve wanted to hide and forget—are the experiences God wants to use to help others. They are your ministry!”
God wanted to recycle my pain and use it for others!
As I worked through the 12 Steps, I saw and felt how God was giving me a heart of compassion. He was turning my walk from a head-knowledge to a heart experience. My compulsive behaviors and other weaknesses were now something I could use to help others. The healing I received going through my 12 Steps was giving me the qualifications and the ‘God-confidence’ that I needed to be used by Him.
I’ve come a long way in my walk of faith and ministry to others. There have been many times that I have felt and believed I was not equipped to serve or lead others. He has always shown up to give me His confidence to boldly share my story of His work in me.
Each time I took a bigger step into ministry or was being stretched beyond my comfort zone, I was reminded of a phrase I’d heard in ministry circles: “God doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the called.”
If you are new to recovery, rest assured that God is going to use you and your story. Just as we are encouraged to take baby steps when we start recovery, we can do the same in stepping up to serve.
Be open to it. Be ready to follow that nudge to serve—not out of guilt or compulsion, but out of a grateful heart. And when you do, it will not only bless others, but it will bless you back.
“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9, NIV)
Contributed by a leader at Celebrate Recovery on the Plateau.