Working a Twelve Step program requires only the willingness to try it.
Millions worldwide have done so, discovering that spiritual health is the wealth they truly need.
Whatever emotional, physical or spiritual challenge you are facing, the 'Twelve' are a proven pathway to peace, joy, hope and freedom.
Whether you are familiar with the Steps or just exploring them for the first time, we welcome you to the adventure.
Click here to share your story or ask us a question.
TWELVE SERIES INTRO
Questions for Discussion and Personal Reflection
What thoughts come to mind when you hear the phrase ‘12 Step Program’?
Discomfort is always a part of any healing process. True or false?
Describe a supportive relationship you have had in the past. What was the most important aspect of that relationship for you? Why?
“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work. If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! … Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not easily broken. ~ Ecclesiastes 4:9-12
What does this passage from the Bible say to you about the nature of a supportive relationship?
What do you fear most about being in a supportive relationship with another person?
What do you think the greatest benefit of a supportive relationship could be for you?
Is there anyone you would feel comfortable inviting to join you to partner up during this series?
What behavior or emotional struggle do you wish you could be free of in your life?
What have you tried in your attempt to cope with or free yourself from that struggle?
Find a quiet place and take 15 minutes to reflect on the following two questions.
Sit with these questions, and let them sink in. Write out your responses on paper.
What will your life look like 10 years from now if you continue on the same path you are on with the behavior you struggle with?
What will your life look like 10 years from now if you were to joyfully quit that behavior for good?
Part of our human condition is the we exist in a condition of powerlessness over many things. While we like to believe that we are in control of life and circumstances, the reality is that in many ways we simply aren’t.
Step One is an opportunity to face that reality and admit where our life isn't working with us running the show. We embrace our powerlessness, we stop pretending. We just get honest with ourselves, admitting that what we have been doing is no longer working with us in control. In a sense, we stop the juggling act we have performed for so long, and accept that if that means all the balls fall to the floor, then so be it. We are ready to accept whatever comes.
The founders of the Twelve Steps discovered that this honest admission of powerlessness reveals a great gift - the gift of hope. For it is in admitting our powerlessness that we allow God’s grace and power access into our lives.
Reflection Questions For Step 1
Step 1: We admitted we were powerless over _______ and life had become unmanageable.
"Powerlessness is part of the human condition." How do you feel contemplating the idea that you might be powerless?
I obviously need help! I realize that I don’t have what it takes. I can will it, but I can’t do it. I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don’t result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time. ~ Romans 7:18-19
In what areas of life do you experience this tug-of-war the most?
In what areas of your life do you experience the strongest need to be in control?
"We can say with great confidence that the only person lacking desperation is the one who does not know him or herself very well." True or false? Why?
Admitting that life has become unmanageable is a difficult thing to acknowledge for anyone. What areas of your life do you experience the greatest sense of unmanageability?
What thoughts cross your mind when you hear the phrase "hitting rock bottom"?
"If you can decide now that you have suffered all of the negative consequences that you are ever willing to suffer from _____, then today you have hit your rock bottom." Rock bottom is whatever you decide it is. True or false? Why?
"When I am weak, then I am strong.” ~ 2 Corinthians 12:10. What does 'when I am weak then I am strong' mean to you?
Is there any place in your life right now that you could fill in the blank in the Step 1 question? "I admit I am powerless over ___________..." How would you fill in the blank?
Have you ever experienced God's grace and power in a moment of your weakness?
We all have faith… faith in our own ability to manage and control life. Until that faith is proven hollow.
The founders of the Twelve Steps discovered that simply being willing to believe that a power greater than ourselves exists and is able to help us (even if we don’t understand how), enables us to move forward. The tiniest bit of faith allows help to begin flowing into our lives.
But before most of us can accept the idea of God as a higher power, we usually have to cough up some religious hairballs.
Today we are introducing Step 2 of the Twelve Steps: We came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
Reflection Questions for Step 2
How do you define the terms “religious” and “spiritual”? What’s the difference?
How hard is it for you to imagine a power greater than yourself being available to help you?
Did you have any experience with religion when you were growing up? What do you remember of it?
What events have shaped your perspective on spirituality?
Have you ever had any positive spiritual experiences? What happened?
Do you have any ‘scripts’ about religious people that you have recited on one or more occasions?
What religious hairballs (prejudices) have you had to cough up in order to develop a healthy perspective on God?
On a scale of 1-10, how willing are you to explore new ideas about spirituality?
What would have to happen for you to move to the next number up on your scale?
Step 2 reads: Came to believe a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
What do you think of when you consider the word “sanity” in this context?
How would you define “sanity” in your life?
Was there ever a time when you came to view your behavior as ‘insane’?
What is your reaction to the fact that personal change and recovery requires patience and understanding, that it doesn’t happen instantly
If you were to believe - right this moment - that God was present to help you, how would that change your perspective on your problems?
What is preventing you from changing your beliefs about a power greater than yourself?
Step One and Two were about admitting and agreeing. Step 3 is where we make a decision to turn our will and lives over to the care of God as we understand Him. How difficult this step is depends a great deal on our mental picture of who/what God is like.
How difficult do you find making decisions?
What is the biggest decision you can recall having had to make in life? What was at stake?
Reflect on the process you go through when making a decision. How, typically, do you process a big decision?
What images come to mind when you hear the word "God?"
Describe your childhood relationship/experience with God.
How is your mental image of God today different from your image of God as a child?
Step 3 requires us to surrender our will and lives over to the care of God. Are there any parts of your life you find more difficult to turn over to God than others? Why?
The story of the Prodigal Son is one of the most enduring and powerful stories in history. In what ways can you relate to the story of the Prodigal Son?
What benefits might there be in making Step 3 a daily practice?
In step four, we realize there are areas of our lives that need attention. We also realize we have trouble seeing or acknowledging those areas. We recognize that our coping strategies for dealing with the stresses of life haven’t always been the healthiest, and some of them have developed into long-term patterns of behavior that have hurt us and others. In step 4, we make a searching and fearless moral inventory of our lives. As we do, God meets us with unconditional love and grace, helping us step into the adventure of self-discovery.
Do you believe that honest self-reflection is essential for spiritual and emotional healing? Why or why not?
What behavior or attitude do you struggle with most, that you wish you could be rid of?
Five years from now, how would your life be different if you were able to identify and deal with that harmful pattern of behavior?
What is preventing you from from identifying and addressing that behavior?
“Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there be any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way.” ~ Psalm 139:23-24
What obstacles prevent you from asking God to search you and reveal your heart?
Facing our resentments and fears requires a great deal of courage. In the 12 Steps, resentment is the #1 offender and a major cause of spiritual disease. Resentment is anger we have held on to from past wrongs done to us.
Write down a few of your major resentments.
To whom or what do you feel bitterness, anger and other forms of malice?
How can you see these resentments have interfered with your life?
Write down a few of your fears.
How can you see they have interfered with your life?
Such [God’s] love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his [God’s] perfect love. ~ 1John 4:18
How would you see your fear differently if you truly knew that in Christ you were unconditionally loved, accepted and never alone?
What do you believe is your major strength? How does it support you?
As we go through life, we all accumulate baggage that weighs us down - guilt feelings, resentments, fears and regrets. This junk accumulates gradually over a lifetime. We experience a removal of that weight by sharing our inventory with someone we can trust - someone who will understand, encourage and not condemn us. When we find the courage to be honest, admitting to God, ourselves and another human being the true nature of our wrongs we find an incredible weight is lifted off our shoulders. Step 5 is our pathway out of isolation and loneliness, a move towards wholeness, happiness and personal peace.
What are some of the ways you have used to distract yourself from the pain of dealing with the weight of guilt, resentment and fear in your life?
What ill effects have you experienced when you have concealed your wrongs and struggles?
Which of your weaknesses cause you to feel fear or embarrassment when you think of sharing your story with another human being?
When choosing a person for Step Five, we want to select a non-judgmental person who will provide unconditional acceptance, and preferably someone who is familiar with the 12 Step process.
What qualities do you feel are most important in the person with whom you will share your fifth step?
Can you think of anyone whom you might be willing to approach about sharing this step?
Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other that you may be healed. ~ James 5:16
What are some items from your inventory for which you feel prayer will be important for you?
Helpful pointers for Step 5
- Allow ample time to complete each thought that you have written down and refrain from unnecessary explanations.
- Eliminate distractions - turn off cell phones
- It's ok to choose someone to share your Step 5 with that you won't see again if you prefer
- When this step is completed, some of your expectations may remain unfulfilled. Remember God's timing isn't our timing, and look forward to God strengthening and developing your capacity to change in the days and weeks to come
As you go through Step 5, you can count on God's mercy and unconditional love. God accepts you just as you are.
How did you encounter God's love for you in Step 5?
STEPS SIX and SEVEN
Humility is a recurring theme in the Twelve Steps and a central idea of steps six and seven. Through choosing an attitude of humility we receive the grace necessary to surrender our struggles to God and achieve progress on our journey. Our goal is peace of mind and serenity which is found as we let go of our old, defective behaviors and are freed to develop the powerful new ones that God intends for us to use.
Step 6 - Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
Step 7 - Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
What positive changes have you noticed in your behaviors, thought patterns or relationships since the start of this series?
What does ‘entirely ready’ mean to you?
Which defects of character have continued to hinder your progress towards becoming the person you most want to become? (this list can help clarify) Which of these are you not entirely ready to have removed? What “benefit” do they provide in your life?
Which of your negative character traits are becoming positive? What changes have you noticed?
What are some of the wrong, unhelpful views of ‘humility’ that you have held in the past?
What fears surface when you think of trusting God with your future instead of trusting yourself?
Does prayer make you feel better? If yes, in what ways do you feel better? If no, what problems do you have with prayer?
Select a situation in your life that is currently a source of resentments, fear or anger. It may involve relationships, work, health or self-esteem.
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change…
State a condition or experience you are aware of that you cannot change.
The courage to change the things I can…
What is a specific condition or situation in your life that you believe can be changed?
And the wisdom to know the difference…
What is your understanding of the difference between what you can and cannot change?
STEPS EIGHT AND NINE
Many of us grow up blaming our parents, relatives and friends for the turmoil in our lives. We even hold God responsible. In Step 8 we begin the process of releasing the need to blame others for our misfortune and accepting full responsibility for our lives. Like barnacles on a ship’s hull, our past wrongdoings can prevent us from sailing smoothly to a life filled with peace. Steps 8 and 9 are an invitation to leave behind our isolation and loneliness by embracing the willingness to make amends. As we do, God will provide insight and direction, and help us to overcome our fear and apprehension. The result is peace of mind and freedom as we begin to forgive ourselves and others.
step 8 - made a list of all the persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all
step 9 - made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others
On a scale of 1 to 10, how willing would you say you are to make amends to people you have hurt in the past?
What would be required for you to take one step up to the next number on your willingness scale?
What concerns do you have about how you will be treated when making amends? Who causes you the most concern?
What consequences do you fear in making your amends?
Who on your amends list causes you the most anxiety? What is your concern?
Is there anyone on your amends list for whom you have felt hatred for in the past? What are your feelings today?
List any outstanding debts you have that need to be repaid. How do you plan to make restitution?
4 Types of Amends
- Face-to-Face - we ask the person to meet personally and we apologize for the harm we have caused and offer to make restitution where appropriate
- Letter or Email - when face to face isn't possible
- Wait-and-See But Willing - for whatever reason, the door isn't open to us to make amends or our initial approach is not welcomed
- Living Amend - creative ways of making restitution without doing additional harm
Who are you feeling led to make amends to at this time? What type of amend do you think would be appropriate?
Running our approach to making a particular amend past another trusted person is very important and helpful to ensure we don't do any more harm. Who do you feel might be someone you could trust to approach and talk to about your strategy for making amends?
Click here for a helpful pdf on how to approach the actual amends making conversation.
God, I ask your help in making amends to those I have harmed. Help me to take responsibility for my mistakes, and be forgiving to others as you are forgiving to me. Grand me the willingness to begin my restitution. This I pray. Amen
Step 10 is often referred to as the ‘maintenance step’. It’s a summary of steps Four through Nine. We become willing to have God change us, and then we humbly ask God to remove our shortcomings. We take a fearless inventory and make amends where needed. Often by the time we reach Step Nine sanity has been restored to our lives. It’s at this point where we can begin to believe that we have arrived and we no longer need God or others to help us in our journey. Doing regular periodic personal inventories keeps us humble and reminds us of our continued help from God.
Step 10: Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it
How can you see yourself benefiting from regularly and specifically reflecting on your attitudes and behavior?
Think of a recent situation where you did not act appropriately. What did you do when you realized you made a mistake?
What success are you having in seeing your faults and promptly admitting them?
There are three kinds of inventories:
1. Spot Check Inventory - This is used to monitor our actions in the moment throughout our day.
What are some things you do to help remind you to take spot-check inventories during the day?
2. Daily Inventory - This is when we set aside time each day to reflect back on our day. This is most often done at night just before going to bed.
What are some ways a daily inventory improves your ability to get along with others?
3. Long-Term Periodic Inventory - This type of inventory can take place quarterly or semi annually. This helps us see where we have experienced the most growth and reveals areas where we still need to do some work.
How much time do you spend reflecting on your life?
Step eleven is about improving our conscious contact with God. This is done through prayer (talking with God) and meditation (listening to God). Often our prayers are more of a monologue - with us doing all the talking. In the Twelve Steps we are learning to give up control of our lives, turn our will and care of our lives over to God. This takes trust, and trust is built as we get to know someone more intimately. This is best done by spending quality time with that someone. In the context of Step 11 that someone is God as we understand Him.
Step 11: Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him
Who taught you or how did you learn to pray?
Does prayer make you feel better? If yes, in what ways do you feel better? If no, what problems do you have with prayer?
What’s the difference between talking TO God and talking WITH God?
Do you find it hard to pray? If so, why do think that is?
Do you currently have a time where you spend time praying? If yes, describe what that looks like. If not, why not?
What do you experience while praying to God?
What is it that you find difficult about spending time with God?
The Twelfth Step reminds us of the pain and joy we have experienced as we have discovered freedom through God’s grace. The realization that all the events of our lives have pulled together to show us our connection to God and creation now gives us strength. Our spiritual awakening has changed us, so now we have the capacity to live our lives as an expression of God’s will. The Twelfth Step is where we experience being instrumental in helping others receive God’s message of hope and healing. We now have the opportunity to promote our own growth by helping others.
step 12 - having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to people, and to practice these principles in all our affairs
We often learn best as we teach and help others learn. Describe a time in your life where you have experienced learning as you taught something to someone.
In what ways does your connection to and relationship with God help you practice sharing grace with others and help you to carry the message of God’s grace and healing?
What is a practical thing you can do this week to share Christ’s love and hope with someone?
Sometimes we become discouraged and lose sight of our progress. If this happens we compare our past to our present and ask ourselves:
- Are we less isolated and no longer afraid of people in authority?
- Have we stopped seeking approval from others and accepted ourselves as we really are?
- Are we more selective of the people we develop relationships with and are we able to keep our own identity in our relationships?
- Are we sharing how we are really feeling?
- Have we stopped trying to dominate and control others?
- Have we become needy and dependent on others to care for us emotionally?
Which of these situations is causing you difficulty?
With which of the above situations have you been most successful in changing your behavior?
Think of a problem area in your life. Describe how you dealt with the problem before you embarked on this series. Describe how you would face that problem now by applying what you have learned by applying lessons from the Twelve Steps.
Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the one who falls and has no one to help him up. ~ Ecclesiastes 4:9-11
In what ways are you making yourself available to help others as a result of your spiritual awakening?