The Manager’s Job

I often make sense of the principles of the program through images. When I think of unmanageability—the second part of the First Step—the image that comes to mind is a big warehouse store run by one guy who is intent on doing everything by himself. And, obviously, there is too much to do. He sprints up to the front to check people out, meanwhile customers are lining up at the photo center, impatient to pick up their pictures. When he gets to the photo center he learns that one of the toilets is overflowing. Shelves need to be restocked, and someone needs to take out the garbage, but the customers waiting to check out are getting belligerent. Eventually, people start looting. Someone sets a fire in aisle twelve. The store is a total disaster. It is just too big for one guy. For the one employee, it is entirely unmanageable.

My life is like the warehouse: there are too many moving pieces for me to make things run smoothly. My life is constantly devolving into one obsession/compulsion or another: once I get my eating under control, I start to have trouble with TV. When I get TV squared away, I start to have trouble with resentment or fear or caffeine. Character defects pop up like a game of Whack-a-Mole. Fear. Resentment. Obsession. Like a circus juggler spinning too many plates. The store is just too big for me to keep up with.

If I really believe that I can’t manage it all, then I have taken an important step towards the First Step: I’ve admitted that my life is unmanageable. What I need is to come to believe that there is a manager out there who can—and will—set my store in order (Step Two), and I need to decide to turn over the keys to Him (Step Three).

To do this, I show up for work and check in with The Manager to get His instructions for the day (Step Eleven). Almost always, it is a list of things that I need to do for others (Step Twelve). Sometimes this to-do list seems paradoxical. The Manager wants me to go talk to the customers on aisle seven, but I’m worried that if I don’t do X, Y, and Z the store won’t function. But when I go through and do The Manager’s list first, somehow, everything works out.

Often, I start to forget that I’m not in charge any more, and I stop checking in with The Manager about my work for the day and things start to shake loose again. That’s why my program is a series of reminders about my new God-centered lifestyle—reminders that I need to let go and let God. I get reminded every morning when I do my dailies, attend meetings, and make or take a call. My life has been running much better since the program taught me to stop trying to manage the unmanageable.

Jared P., Utah, USA

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