The Domino Effect: One Life is All It Takes

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“My sponsor said it was time for me to give back.”

Now in his fourth decade of sobriety, Jack recalls a significant stretch on his road to recovery. It was a serving experience he would never forget.
A smile stretches his now-whitened whiskers as he shares with me:

“I had been sober for a while, and my sponsor thought it would be good for me to serve somewhere. My sponsor’s sponsor agreed, and encouraged me and my sponsor to serve together. The solution they came up with was to lock us both in a prison every Tuesday night to lead AA meetings. I didn’t really have much of a say in the matter. I was told to do it, so I did. This went on for a year. Every week, we’d head off to jail. I met a lot of different guys in there. I wasn’t really sure I was making an impact, but I kept going. It wasn’t always easy. But, we kept holding the meetings. After my year-long “sentence” was up, I moved on to other things.


But, I heard something later on that will stay with me forever. It was about one of the men who was in prison while we held those meetings. He got sober. He got out of jail and lived a sober life. He started facilitating AA meetings so other guys could do the same. Just one guy. One man was able to sober up and turn things around. I had been a part of changing one life. And that made it all worth it.”

Making a Difference

Jack’s story gave me pause. As I considered its impact, I was inspired. His words were so true. Since one person was helped, it was worth the effort.

“Giving back” can be tough. We may never see reward or impact. We may wonder if we are wasting our time. We may want to give up. But we never know how far our reach will go when we serve. Just one life. That’s all it takes.

Who knows how many other lives that newly-sober man will impact with his own service. One other life? Two? Two-hundred? How many will read his story here and be encouraged to find some way to make a lasting impression of their own? What incredible chain of life-changing events may have started with one man being forced to lead AA meetings in a prison 30 years ago?

What new threads of influence can we start today?

Go for it. Make an impact. One life is all it takes.

Additional Reading: So You Wanna be a Sponsor?

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