Step Three

By Steve K.

“Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.”

As a result of the surrender necessary for Step One, and a willingness to believe in the power of the fellowship of AA and its Twelve-Step program, a Power Greater than oneself, the alcoholic is ready to take Step Three.

Step Three is making the decision to turn one’s will and life over to the care and guidance of the fellowship of AA and its Twelve-Step program; or a Greater Power of one’s own understanding. This sounds very daunting, but by breaking the Step down it’s not that intimidating. When we understand that one’s “will” just means one’s thinking or decision making processes, and that “life” means one’s actions; and realise that alcoholism is characterised by irrational thinking and actions, it then becomes reasonable to commit oneself to the support, guidance, principles and actions contained within AA and the Twelve Steps.

As with all the Steps, humility is needed for taking Step Three and contained within it. It’s realising that one’s own thinking and actions are not whole or sane in relation to drinking and other areas of life, and that guidance or direction is needed from outside of oneself. In other words … trusting in a greater wisdom than one’s own.


How is Step 3 applied?  It depends upon your understanding of a Power Greater than oneself.  Based upon the fellowship of AA and the Twelve-Step program of recovery being a Power Greater, I would suggest the following:

fully participating in AA meetings and commitment to working through the rest of the Twelve Steps.  This means choosing a “home group” as a foundation of meeting attendance, regularly sharing at this meeting, getting involved in the running of the group, taking phone numbers and building relationships with other group members. This then allows for the therapeutic power of the group to provide support and guidance.

A commitment to working through the Twelve Steps begins by asking an experienced AA member, who has worked through the Steps themselves, to help guide you through them. This is referred to as sponsoring someone through the Steps.  Working through and practising the principles contained within the Steps, combined with the support and guidance from the group, will, if engaged in honestly and willingly, bring about changes in one’s self-awareness, moral and spiritual awareness, attitude and behaviour. This process is often referred to in AA as a “spiritual awakening” or “psychic change”.

In accordance with spiritual principles and practices, AA members may, dependent upon belief, pray or something similar to a Higher Power of their own understanding, as an act of turning their will and life over. I view praying as a type of affirmation and a conscious act of humility – it’s asking for guidance from a greater wisdom than one’s own. The alcoholic or addict needs guidance from outside of themselves due to the selfish nature of the condition. Step Four looks at this self-centredness and its various manifestations, referred to in AA as “character defects”.


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