SA’s program curriculum is called the SA Formation of Servants because it has been designed to guide Christian people through a personal recovery process. The SA Formation of Servants is meant to become an instrument of the Holy Spirit in the lives of those who are willing to address the selfish desires or idols that plague their lives, and who “Recognize that God desires to transform every life into Jesus’ likeness.” (1 Cor. 3:18)
The FOS integrates key Biblical texts into the Twelve Step materials. The participant in an FOS Group works through the texts and the steps to facilitate their own personal growth and recovery. The purpose is always to facilitate their development as Servants of God who bring a message of hope and recovery to all who they serve.
As a disciple of the Lord Jesus, the personal journey is based on prayer, which directs the hearts of God’s children to be ready to receive a new look on life – fashioned after Jesus’ own. But to be like Jesus, they must come to realize, has nothing to do with outside changes, but rather with a complete change of learned behaviours, values and any pre-conceived ideas which they may have accepted as part of their makeup and that are so deeply rooted in their hearts.
The FOS program is a tool used by the Holy Spirit to transform the lives of Christian people who are ready and willing to hear what He desires to reveal to them, through God’s word. They have discovered their inability to overcome temptations, trials and tribulations through their own strength, in their own way, while leaning on their own understanding. They have been so weakened by the battles that they have been left with no alternative but to cry out to God to renew their strength. As they journey together as a group, these Christian people become recovery partners to each other.
The FOS program utilizes specific Scriptures that can quench an individual’s thirst for righteousness and which they can pray and meditate on to enable the Holy Spirit to teach them, in a deeper way, about the Lord’s will. These passages will give them a glimpse of God’s character and help them come to know Jesus as their only true friend and the meaning of life.
These Scriptures have been integrated into the weekly Step work in the FOS manuals. There are also written as in-depth Bible studies on several of the key passages that are included in the manuals. These integrated reflections and Bible studies remind Christian people what the journey is all about as they work through the Twelve Steps and study the Biblical passages. Below is an outline of the journey toward recovery and wholeness.
FOS work begins with study and self reflection on Matthew 25 and the parable of the ten virgins. It introduces the disciple to the process of Scriptural Twelve Step work and prepares them to be ready to work through personal recovery and sanctification. The study is about becoming a ‘doer’ of the Word as this Scripture invites disciples to hear what the Holy Spirit has to say about the meaning of being a true believer of Christ.
Ephesians 6:10-18 (the Armour of God) and Step 1
Step 1: We admitted we are powerless over some of the effects of God’s sovereignty in our lives, and because of our lack of trust in Him our lives are unmanageable.
Step 1 is about bottoming out. Stirred by the Holy Spirit, disciples have made the decision to stop their denial. In the study of the Armour of God they prepare to begin the process of understanding their own recovery. The study takes them through the process of putting on the armour. They must wear all the components of the armour as they travel in uncharted territories of their own souls and lives. It is about safety as this Scripture invites them to understand spiritual warfare as they work on their own selfish desires and motives and prepare to serve their Lord in any ministry or environment. The integration of this passage with Step 1 facilitates personal probing and discovery of their powerlessness and insanity.
Psalm 23 and Step 2
Step 2: We came to believe that our loving God, in the person of our Lord Jesus Christ, could restore us to sanity.
Step 2 is about reaching out to God. Motivated by the Holy Spirit, disciples desire to be restored to sanity because they discovered that practicing the same behaviours but expecting different results is insanity in itself. Linking the study of Psalm 23 to this step ties the sanity that only the Good Shepherd can bring to the process of recovery. To sense insanity and have no external measure of sanity leaves the disciple vulnerable to their own whims. This Scripture provides the support needed as they journey through their personal struggles with belief. Faith is the key word in this step as faith is a trust in God to do as He wills in their lives. As disciples struggle to see God in the midst of their own powerlessness and insanity, the Psalm provides a view of the process of God’s work in their lives as the Good Shepherd who never leaves or forsakes his people. The Spirit is at work shaping, molding and facilitating their conformity to the person of Jesus Christ.
Galatians 5:22-23 (The Fruit of the Spirit) and Step 3
Step 3: We made a decision to turn our will and lives over to the care of our loving God.
Step 3 is about making the decision to once again turn over one?s life to God. Persuaded by the Holy Spirit, disciples have become convinced that God’s way is better than their own. The decision to turning one’s life over to God is about surrender. It is about giving up control of one’s life and its outcomes to God. Joined with this process of surrender is the study on the Fruit of the Spirit. In this Scripture disciples are introduced to the concept that the Spirit is at work in their lives developing the character of Jesus (the fruit of the Spirit).This fruit is not about the disciple working harder to be like Jesus, but about spending time with Jesus in order to more reflect his character and his fruit. The Spirit develops this fruit as the process of sanctification is at work in their lives. This Scripture can act as a thermometer with which they can see how the Spirit is at work daily in their actions while following the Lord where He chooses to send them.
Mark 4:14-20 (The Parable of the Sower) and Step 4
Step 4: We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
Step 4 is about fearlessly assessing one’s life. Challenged by the Holy Spirit, disciples seriously address how they sought, so far, to sinfully gratify their God given needs for love, security and acceptance. This step is about gauging the receptivity of one’s own heart to the work of the Spirit of God. It involves taking a hard look at the motivations behind their actions and responses. It involves rigorous honesty, with the conviction of the Spirit, about what drives the actions of the heart. Linked with this step is the study of the Parable of the Sower. The parable speaks of the receptivity of the human heart and the things that block that receptivity. It calls the disciple to humbly seek the Spirit’s help in discerning the type of soil that makes up their hearts.
Luke 15:11-31 (The Parable of the Prodigal) and Step 5
Step 5: We admitted to our loving God, ourselves and to another person the exact nature of our wrongs.
Step 5 involves confessing one’s wrongs. Embraced by the Holy Spirit, disciples receive the courage to make the decision to change their damaging ways by asking God’s forgiveness. This process of confession begins by sharing their Step 4 work with another carefully chosen human being. The study of the Prodigal facilitates the work of confession and repentance that is operative in Step 5. It involves the younger brother coming to his senses and looking hard at his own life. After realizing the depth his selfish desires had led him to; he decides to return to his father and confess his sins and seek restoration even as a servant in the house of his father. While some of us know intimately the downward spiral of the younger brother, some of us justify our self-righteousness. Such state of heart unfortunately (as demonstrated by the older brother in the parable) not only hurts our relationship with God, but also with each other. The older brother represents the religious people of Jesus’ time, but also those of us who have not yet realized how hurtful our self-righteousness is. We too might be bitter and unable to forgive. We too might think that we have sacrificed and done much for good. We too might look down on others whom we consider to be greater sinners than ourselves. With such attitudes, we are as lost to the Father’s love as the young son was.
James 4:6; 4:10, Matthew 5:3-4 and Step 6
Step 6: We are entirely ready to have our loving God remove all these defects of character.
Step 6 involves getting ready for change. Pressed by the Holy Spirit, disciples get ready to humble themselves by recognizing that their worth comes from God alone, from being a child of the heavenly Father. From that position of self understanding and acceptance they are able to more fully understand what is at the heart of the life responses and selfish desires that they have come to know and live. The study in James 4 and Matthew 5:3-4 helps prepare them to work through heart issues. They point out the necessity of humbling oneself before God and the response that God has in giving grace and strength to work through the process. The hope in these passages is that God is no longer the enemy or disciplinarian who will wait in judgment for their failures. He is rather the one who provides the grace and the power to truly change and live as he has made people to live.
Jeremiah 18:1-6, Matthew 5:5-6 (The Potter & the Clay) and Step 7
Step 7: We humbly asked our loving God to remove our shortcomings.
Understanding the difference between humility and humiliation in making the decision to change is what Step 7 is all about. Comforted by the Holy Spirit, disciples have become so grateful for the Grace made available in Jesus – Grace which enables them to overcome any temptations, trials and tribulations they encounter while following Him – that they have come to desire to be transformed into His likeness, seeking righteousness in their lives no matter the cost. The study of the Potter and the Clay enables the disciple to learn and understand the way grace works in their lives as they pray and seek God’s power to remove their shortcomings and defects. This combination of scripture with the step is all about transformation as this scripture reveals the work of God’s grace in them and as they accept the molding of God’s vision for their lives. It is then that they will experience the promises of Matthew 5:5-6 they will have a deepening sense of their inheritance of the Father’s good earth and they will find that their hunger and thirst for righteousness is satisfied.
James 4:1, Matthew 5:7 and Step 8
Step 8: We made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.
Becoming ready to make amends to those harmed through addictions and dependencies is what is involved in working Step 8. Held close by the Holy Spirit, disciples have come to desire humility as a gift from God, instead of as a concept they must achieve. The study in James 4 and Matthew 5:7 bring the concept of how each life touches another into clear focus. The passage and the step work will enable the disciple to see the effects of their choices in life and facilitate becoming willing by the power of God to make amends. This willingness is what the Spirit is at work doing in Step 8. When the willingness is in place and the Spirit has brought about a change of heart, then Step 8 naturally progresses to Step 9.
Matthew 5:23-24, Matthew 5:7 and Step 9
Step 9: We made direct amends to such people whenever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
Wisely making amends to those harmed through addictions and dependencies is what is done in Step 9. Guided by the Holy Spirit, disciples’ attitudes towards others begin to reflect their relationship with God. Having tasted of the forgiveness and mercy of God, this character quality of Jesus begins to work out in their lives. The study of the scriptures and the prompting of the Spirit take the willingness of Step 8 and enable amends to be made wisely and carefully as led by God.
Matthew 5:8-9 and Step 10
Step 10: We continued to take personal inventory, and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.
Maintaining recovery is what Step 10 involves. Prompted by the Holy Spirit, disciples take the initiative to become diligent in remembering the lessons they have learned about God’s ways and character so that they can avoid repeating past mistakes. The process of the first 9 Steps is now a habit that is worked again and again. The benefit of addressing the core issues of the heart has become evident and a new desire imparted by the Spirit to keep short accounts with God and others is now not just understood but enjoyed. In accord with the scripture in Matthew 5:8-9 they have experienced the blessedness spoken of for those who seek and maintain peace.
Matthew 5:10-12 and Step 11
Step 11: We sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with our loving God, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry it out.
Step 11 is about deepening one’s relationship with God, desiring to do His will rather than one’s own will. Empowered by the Holy Spirit, disciples chew on the Word of God until their heart is so full of it that they desire to live it in everything they do. The maintaining of a living and active interaction with God has become important and the benefits have been experienced. They seek to deepen and grow in that relationship by using the tools that God has provided. Each day as the plan of God unfolds before them and they walk through the challenges and joys of the day, the disciple seeks to know God’s will and the power to carry it out. What a challenge to know and understand that will and walk in it! That challenge captures their lives in Step 11.
Luke 1:46-55 (The Magnificat) and Step 12
Step 12: Having had a spiritual awakening by the Spirit using God’s Word in our lives and the Formation of Servants program, we carry the message of God’s faithfulness, kindness and mercy to others and continue in the process of learning to live under His control.
Step 12 is about sharing spiritual awakenings and recovery from addictions and dependencies with others. The decision to walk the talk has been made. Led by the Holy Spirit, disciples share with everyone weakened by their unfruitful attempts to overcome temptations, trials and tribulations, what their Lord has done for them when they were faced with similar situations. They have learned that to keep their recovery they must be willing to share it with others. Like Mary in the Magnificat, they are transformed and cannot stop talking about what the Lord has done. The message of hope and recovery is not that people are able in themselves to change, but that the Spirit of God working in the man or woman of God is able to transform a destructive and broken life into a life of joy and recovery. That is the message that is carried. It is not about them it is about their Lord and his willingness and ability to do more than anyone could ask or hope in renewal and transformation.
The SA Formation of Servants Twelve Steps viewed as a whole.
- We admitted we are powerless over some of the effects of God’s sovereignty in our lives, and because of our lack of trust in Him our lives are unmanageable.
- We came to believe that our loving God, in the person of our Lord Jesus Christ, could restore us to sanity.
- We made a decision to turn our will and lives over to the care of our loving God.
- We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
- We admitted to our loving God, ourselves and to another person the exact nature of our wrongs.
- We are entirely ready to have our loving God remove all these defects of character.
- We humbly asked our loving God to remove our shortcomings.
- We made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.
- We made direct amends to such people whenever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
- We continued to take personal inventory, and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.
- We sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with our loving God, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry it out.
- Having had a spiritual awakening by the Spirit using God’s Word in our lives and the Formation of Servants Program, we carry the message of God’s faithfulness, kindness and mercy to others and continue in the process of learning to live under His control.
(*The 12 Steps of the SA Formation of Servants program have been adapted from the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. Permission on file from A.A. World Services)