AA needs money to operate, though Tradition 7 asks we keep no more that a prudent reserve to continue fulfillment of our “Responsibility Pledge”, but we do NOT get paid for 12 Step work.
“Freely have ye received, freely give...professionalize our Twelfth Step, the result has been the same: Our single purpose has been defeated. Alcoholics will not listen to a paid twelfth-stepper.” (12 x 12, pg 167)
Maybe its something in the ‘alcoholic’ gene, or part of the alcoholic personality that kept me on the look-out for the ‘angles’. I always thought, “And how much do you have to make before I am well?” when faced with a paid-professional. (I'm better today, and have respect for those very same folks who labor so hard to help others).
This non-professional aspect was a life-saver, as I looked suspiciously at those old drunks who were trying to help me, wondering what they got out of it, when they told me, “We stay sober trying to help someone else. Period. You may or may not make it, but you’re helping us.”
However, when we have non-12 step functions such as sweeping the floor or maintaining the building we meet in, paying reasonable wage to one qualified or skilled, even if also an AA member (rather than allowing Shakey the New Guy to volunteer to replace the roof) is perfectly OK (and maybe safer all around )
Another facet of our ‘non-professional’ principle is listed in the checklist below (Question 4), in that AA has NO subject matter experts. Make use of what others have to offer, freely take what you can and leave the rest for others to use, but understand we are ALL one drink away from a drunk (myself included), because there is no second class in AA.
Practice These Principles…**
Tradition Eight: Alcoholics Anonymous should remain forever nonprofessional, but our service centers may employ special workers.
1. Is my own behavior accurately described by the Traditions? If not, what needs changing?
2. When I chafe about any particular Tradition, do I realize how it affects others?
3. Do I sometimes try to get some reward—even if not money—for my personal AA efforts?
4. Do I try to sound in AA like an expert on alcoholism? On recovery? On medicine? On sociology? On AA itself? On psychology? On spiritual matters? Or, heaven help me, even on humility?
5. Do I make an effort to understand what AA employees do? What workers in other alcoholism agencies do? Can I distinguish clearly among them?
6. In my own AA life, have I any experiences which illustrate the wisdom of this Tradition?
7. Have I paid enough attention to the book Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions? To the pamphlet AA Tradition—How It Developed?
** These questions were originally published in the AA Grapevine in conjunction with a series on the Twelve Traditions that began in November 1969 and ran through September 1971. While they were originally intended primarily for individual use, many AA groups have since used them as a basis for wider discussion.
12 & 12 and Traditions Check List reprinted with Permission AAWS