Sponsors Giving "Willingness Tests"?

Most of us who recovered with AA's program did so with the help of a "sponsor". But what is sponsorship? How do I get one? Who can be a sponsor? What makes a good sponsor?
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FeenixxRising
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Sponsors Giving "Willingness Tests"?

Post by FeenixxRising » Thu Aug 08, 2013 11:57 am

I've now heard a number of stories about sponsors giving sponsees "willingness tests". For example, telling a sponsee to park at the far end of the parking lot and then pick up all the liter before coming into the meeting. Other sponsees have mentioned being told to wear different color clothing or park on the other side of the street. Apparently, the point of these demands is not about utility (i.e. the parking lot exercise wasn't actually about picking up liter), rather they were used to test the sponsee's willingness to 1) obey the sponsor and 2) work the steps.

Whatever the case, it all sounds wildly inappropriate. Furthermore, these "tests" seem to have no grounding in AA literature.

I don't yet have a sponsor, and stories such as these are one reason why I don't. Are these tests common? Am I missing something?

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Karl R
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Re: Sponsors Giving "Willingness Tests"?

Post by Karl R » Thu Aug 08, 2013 12:08 pm

Hi there.

So nice to read you.

Please read the last paragraph of page 18 and the first paragraph of page 19 in our basic text "alcoholics anonymous". These two paragraphs represent a pretty fair description of what to look for in a sponsor. You may find information that you find useful in those two paragraphs.

The only willingness test my first sponsor used was that I show up sober for our twice weekly sessions where we worked together from the big book. Willingness as well as self-honesty was demonstrated by the fact that we stayed sober together in the taking of the 12 steps of alcoholics anonymous.

I'd fire a sponsor who demanded "obedience" (ego anyone?). Most of my sponsors who have stayed sober shared their experience and possibly an occasional suggestion emanating from what we found of ourselves in the pages of the Big Book.

good question.
regards,
Karl

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FeenixxRising
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Re: Sponsors Giving "Willingness Tests"?

Post by FeenixxRising » Thu Aug 08, 2013 12:29 pm

Thanks Karl. I've read pages 18 & 19 a number of times now. Seems simple enough to me. I'm not sure why any sponsor would feel the need to add something to the program.

Here's another story. One I heard in at a meeting few months ago. The speaker said the first thing his sponsor told him to do was to say hello to everyone he saw each morning when walking into work. Now, saying hello to others is a nice way to start the day. But I fail to see how that request has anything to do with sponsorship and working the Steps.

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Re: Sponsors Giving "Willingness Tests"?

Post by becksdad » Thu Aug 08, 2013 12:32 pm

Hey Feenix, I have to admit that just the title of this topic kind of made me laugh! No, I have never heard of this. Glad I haven't, because you're right - I don't see where it has anything at all to do with the program of recovery. If I could get sober by picking up litter or wearing lime green pants or singing my shares in meetings, I guess I would have done it. But lucky for me, all the sober alcoholics who I've met have steered me nowhere but to the steps and putting them into my life.

The people who I admire and respect in AA are ones who simply share in a matter of fact way what they have done in their lives to recover, and just put it out there for whoever and however it can help. Just keep looking for someone who seems to rest comfortably in sobriety, seems grounded in the 12 steps, and is open to be involved with others without "conditions". For what it's worth, there is a temporary sponsor service available here at e-AA, and I can say that everyone involved with that as a sponsor will do the same thing my sponsor did - guide sponsees within the 12 steps.

I have to ask, though.... you said you have heard stories of these "willingness tests", but have you actually seen this? Sounds a little like being in Boy Scouts and being sent to get a left-handed smoke shifter or 50 feet of shoreline! :D . Then again..... maybe these "sponsors" are really missing good opportunities..... I would get my car washed or my house cleaned! :lol: OH MY GOD, I"M JUST KIDDING!!!!!

Keep coming back, man! I admit I have a bit of a twisted sense of humor....

Ed

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Re: Sponsors Giving "Willingness Tests"?

Post by JohnZ » Thu Aug 08, 2013 12:44 pm

Karl R wrote:The only willingness test my first sponsor used was that I show up sober for our twice weekly sessions where we worked together from the big book.

^^^THIS is the only necessary willingness test. The rest is bullshit. And yes, I've seen it happen - perpetrated by sponsors who never worked the steps themselves, and simply had no idea what to do, so they just made things up.

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Re: Sponsors Giving "Willingness Tests"?

Post by FeenixxRising » Thu Aug 08, 2013 12:46 pm

The liter story was posted by an AA member on another recovery site; he says it helped him stay sober; although, I'm not sure how. The say-hello-while-waking-into-work story was told by a speaker at a meeting. I read and heard both stories from the people claiming this was done by their sponsors. Hence my concerns.

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Re: Sponsors Giving "Willingness Tests"?

Post by Brock » Thu Aug 08, 2013 2:33 pm

Ed says, "I can say that everyone involved with that as a sponsor will do the same thing my sponsor did - guide sponsees within the 12 steps". Ed in my opinion is a very good man, and an asset to this site, and I hope that since he is a trusted servant and helps manage the site, that he knows that all potential on line sponsors are on the same page, and I am sure that none of them would do crazy things like "willingness tests". However, when I first joined, although I made it quite clear to the on line sponsor, that I was nearly three years sober, and had a good relationship with God, it was insisted that the prayer he sent was THE ONLY PRAYER I was to use. My objections to this were met with the explanation that this is the way his sponsor showed him, and therefore this was the way he had to show me. The person meant well, but I could not work with him.

I have come across this insistence, on doing it to you, the way it was done to me, on other occasions, and it would be a great shame that if picking up litter works for someone, he may "pass it on". I think sponsoring someone can be compared to raising a child, my Dad did things which I think helped me develop, and others which did not, so for my own child I can choose wisely, I wish all sponsors would do the same.

God bless all who contribute.
Brock.
"Good morning, this is your Higher Power speaking. I will not be needing your help today."

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Re: Sponsors Giving "Willingness Tests"?

Post by kenyal » Thu Aug 08, 2013 2:36 pm

A more common variety is to have the sponsee call their sponsor 7 days a week, often at a preset time. At least in your example the parking lot gets cleaned up a bit.

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Re: Sponsors Giving "Willingness Tests"?

Post by Marc L » Thu Aug 08, 2013 3:02 pm

Now go on over to that corner over there ...
Then Stand on your Head and Spit Nickels.
How absurd is that? :lol:

Marc
Recovery won't just happen by Osmosis. You gonna' have to work at it some.
12th Step work ain't just a job... It's an Adventure.

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Re: Sponsors Giving "Willingness Tests"?

Post by Duke » Thu Aug 08, 2013 3:53 pm

At least you'd make a buck with every twenty luggies Marc. What's not to like? :wink:
"If you are humble nothing will touch you, neither praise nor disgrace, because you know what you are.", Mother Teresa

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Re: Sponsors Giving "Willingness Tests"?

Post by JohnZ » Thu Aug 08, 2013 5:53 pm

Let's be careful not to confuse service work for the fellowship with willingness tests, however. A lot of sponsors insist that a newcomer find some way to be of service to the group, and picking up litter is not a bad idea, along with things like making coffee, sweeping floors, setting up chairs, etc. Those are easy ways for newcomers to participate in service work. You can't ask them to be GSRs at the start.

But when a sponsor is asking his sponsee to walk his dog and mow his lawn, and neither of them even own a Big Book, clearly something has gone awry. I didn't make that example up by the way - I saw it happening in one of my groups.

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Re: Sponsors Giving "Willingness Tests"?

Post by avaneesh912 » Fri Aug 09, 2013 4:53 am

Yeah there are lot of weird stuff goes on in the name of 'testing the willingness of the person trying to recover'. Where does this all stem from? People not using the big book for recovery. Most of the people in the fellowship go according to what the sponsor asked them to do. There lies the problem.

One guy told me that his sponsor would ask the him to call about 20 of his alcoholic friends and talk about the 1st step experience one person per week and write down a log. And then he has to review that crap with the sponsor. And this guy adopted the same when he works with other people now. We were suppose to start a big book study but I just couldn't digest that and drop the idea of starting one.
Last edited by avaneesh912 on Wed Aug 14, 2013 5:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Show him, from your own experience, how the peculiar mental condition surrounding that first drink prevents normal functioning of the will power (Alcoholics Anonymous, Page 92)

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Karl R
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Re: Sponsors Giving "Willingness Tests"?

Post by Karl R » Wed Aug 14, 2013 4:29 pm

I've restored this thread to sanity. Anyone with issues may speak with me by private message. Or contact any other mod or Ann the coordinator at your convenience.

Karl... E-AA Group forums admin...

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Re: Sponsors Giving "Willingness Tests"?

Post by JohnZ » Wed Aug 14, 2013 7:01 pm

Haha! That's good Karl - thanks for stepping in as our Higher Power!

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Re: Sponsors Giving "Willingness Tests"?

Post by Marc L » Wed Aug 14, 2013 9:50 pm

JohnZ wrote:Haha! That's good Karl - thanks for stepping in as our Higher Power!
The man has delusions of grandeur...
I think He missed a step.
I was gonna' HurlHighLevelMath at the natives but out of courtesy and respect for a buddy, I won't.

Marc
Recovery won't just happen by Osmosis. You gonna' have to work at it some.
12th Step work ain't just a job... It's an Adventure.

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