So often it seems we have to strive to “measure up”: we are encouraged to secure the perfect job and climb the corporate ladder, be physically fit, sleep eight hours, network, meditate, have an engaging social life, set aside time for self-care, and in the case of our OA memberships, be available for recovery by attending meetings and giving service. For those of us who are prone to thinking too much about it, we can feel “terminally challenged” to make sure we do the right thing at the right time and in the right context. That’s a ticklish balancing act. But if we take these things in small portions, then we can have them in our lives.

Occasionally, I remind myself that not everything is a to-do list. Then I assess my measuring tools and determine their appropriateness. Cups, spoons, and a scale to measure food? Check. Bathroom scale to monitor my weight? Check. I measure my level of recovery by following the Twelve Steps and by utilizing the guidelines of the Traditions and Concepts of OA Service so I can offer my best self.

With my job, I’m assessed on my skills and  performance with a rating form. In OA, I’m appraised by how well I continue to surrender, integrate humility, and get along with others. Incorporating the Principles and practicing them in all my affairs helps with ongoing abstinence in all three realms: emotional, physical, and spiritual.

When I do well at work, I get a raise and sometimes a financial bonus. When I do well at OA, there is no payment for my involvement in this program. There are no dues or fees, and I am not paid for my service.

This brings me to our Eighth Tradition: “Overeaters Anonymous should remain forever non-professional, but our service centers may employ special workers.” As I review the Tradition Eight chapter in our book The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of Overeaters Anonymous, Second Edition, I see that we can employ special workers. Yes, I can feel special among friends, but special takes on a different meaning in this Tradition.

Who are our special workers? They are people who may or may not be OA members and who are paid by our service bodies and the World Service Office for the professional services they provide, such as accounting, marketing, business administration, and office management. At the intergroup/service body level, professional services could include a bookkeeper, webmaster, or office manager. At the WSO, our special workers include a managing director, associate director, and others who manage five WSO departments: Executive, Member Services, Publications, Accounting, and Digital Communications, along with support staff.

Special workers are paid for the professional services they offer, which require the skills necessary to do the job. We can employ a top-notch group of highly qualified professionals, but they are not paid based on their years in OA.

OA’s Preamble states, “Overeaters Anonymous is a Fellowship of individuals who, through shared experience, strength, and hope, are recovering from compulsive overeating.” As members, we have many opportunities to be of service, but we are “forever non-professional” (Tradition Eight). This means none of us are professional compulsive eaters. (I know some will joke or argue about how they ate their body weight in food and quickly dropped weight, etc., but that is just addiction at work.) While we, as OA members, do offer our service as sponsors, committee chairs, or officers of a service body, “we are never paid for the service we give in OA. . . . Members who lead OA-sponsored retreats and events are reimbursed for their travel and lodging expenses but are not paid for their leadership” (The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of Overeaters Anonymous, Second Edition, p. 141).

As service body reps, world service delegates, or board members, we may be stellar in what we offer to OA groups and communities, but this is only a way to work Step Twelve, where we are asked to carry the message of recovery and practice these principles in all our affairs. We don’t pay others to speak at our OA functions since speaking is a recovery service, not a business service. There is no mention of a financial raise or bonus in Step Twelve. What we do get is ongoing recovery.

I feel good knowing that, unlike how it is for me at work, I can give a helping hand in so many ways in OA and never have formal evaluation from my fellows. Conversely, I am liberated in my recovery because my personal income is not dependent on my meeting attendance or service hours. Simply by giving and receiving in this program, I get recovery—this I know. What a relief that service in recovery is an endeavor of love and not for money.