8. Overeaters Anonymous should remain forever nonprofessional, but our service centers may employ special workers.
While our small Intergroup has no particular need of special workers, that doesn’t mean that we don’t adhere to tradition eight. There are two halves to this sentence, two sides of a coin. On one side, we don’t hire out for any job that relates directly to carrying the message of OA to compulsive eaters. On the other hand, we might hire people for jobs that only indirectly relate to carrying the message, if it is necessary.
Both the AA and OA Twelve and Twelves tell us the same thing. That we cannot expect to function long and effectively in this world if we don’t pay our bills, review our correspondence, and do the other niggling tasks required to keep OA going. In our area, those tasks are manageable by us because we are small. It is not necessary to hire professionals. We can handle both the administrative tasks and carrying the message. Not so in many places with significantly larger intergroups or within the broader service structure.
On the flip side, however, we can never, ever hire someone to do our twelfth step work for us. We do not pay workshop or retreat presenters for their time (though we do, rightly, reimburse their legitimate expenses). We do not pay our sponsors for their help. We don’t earn chits at the OA store for speaking up at meetings. There is no quid pro quo in carrying the message. That includes our time spent organizing events that carry the message.
Our payment is much greater than mere cash: staying in recovery, connecting more deeply to our fellowship, and seeing the newcomer change into the kind of person their HP wants them to be.
Monetary rewards would cheapen what we do. God does not appear to do business in dollars and cents, but rather in hearts and minds. Everyone who has ever paid for a diet system can understand why the lack of profit motive is vital to our ability to help others.
Tradition eight ties together with tradition seven to give us a working philosophy we might describe as DIO: Do it ourselves. We pay our own way no matter what. Similarly, we do all the work ourselves until it affects our ability to carry the message. Then we pay someone to help us, so that we can continue our twelfth step work unabated.
Like with so many things in life, tradition eight may not seem like much on the outside, but its spiritual significance lies just beneath its somewhat mechanical phrasing.