What does “qualifying” mean?
I have been requested to chair a "Reflections" meeting next Monday. How little time should I spend in qualifying myself? Can you briefly explain "qualifying?"
In some locations, people use the term "qualifying" to refer to the time when a speaker begins a meeting with a brief background about their drinking. In many places, if you asked how you "qualify" they would have no idea what you were talking about.
"Qualifying" is often done in the rough format of "What it was like, what happened and what it is like now." This refers to what a person's life was like, what happened when they finally quit, and how A.A.'s fellowship and program of recovery affected them.
Sometimes qualifying takes the form of what is often disparagingly called a "drunk-o-log" where a person tells some drinking horror stories, mentions that they got sober and then opens the meeting. The common wisdom in A.A. is that we all know how to drink and how awful it was but since the meeting is about recovery the focus should emphasize how we got sober.
We don't know the exact origin of the term "qualifying," only that sometimes the intent is for a person to say why they are "qualified to speak" in A.A. At other times, qualifying one's self simply refers to briefly summarizing one's experience.
The number of minutes a person should spend talking before opening a meeting, and if they should talk about themselves at all, varies greatly from place to place. There is no standard way to conduct any type of meeting.
When the question of local practice arises it's usually best to talk to members of that group because each group makes their own customs.
It is best not to assume much since a great deal about the conduct of meetings can vary from group to group. Since, by Tradition, each group is the highest authority in A.A. their customs should be respected.