Sponsorship Question

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?

Sponsorship Question

Postby emeraldg » Tue Feb 02, 2016 8:50 am

Hello,

It has been brought to my attention that a newcomer (or perhaps anyone) to A.A is not required to have a sponsor. I did not realize. Can anyone please elaborate on this?

Also, what are your thoughts on the other end of the spectrum: is a longer term member required or at the very least STRONGLY encouraged to eventually BE a sponsor?

Thank you all so much.
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Re: Sponsorship Question

Postby Tosh » Tue Feb 02, 2016 9:17 am

Hi emeraldg, you don't have to have a sponsor, you don't have to do anything in A.A.; you don't even have to be sober.

There's no lectures to endure, people to please, etc.

However, it's been my experience that having a sponsor to help me through the Big Book, the program, to be with me at Step 3, to show me how to do a Step 4, to listen to my Step 5, to be with me for my Step 7 prayer and to help show me how to approach each amend has been very useful.

And when I started sponsoring, I already had a good idea of what to do, since I'd been sponsored; I learnt how to sponsor by having a sponsor. And he was a great source of help with sponsoring too.

My sponsor isn't my controller, my boss, or anything like that. He's just made himself useful to me and my sobriety.

And I don't think anyone needs be a 'long term member' to sponsor; they only have had to have a spiritual awakening as a result of the steps. If you've had that and you've only been a member for a week-or-two, you're qualified to sponsor.

But please note, my concept of what a sponsor is, is simply someone who guides us through the Big Book and 12 Steps; they're not a life coach or some spiritual guru, or someone who knows everything about life.

And if you don't want to sponsor, that's fine, but I think some folk may have problems staying sober if they're not helping someone out; trying to be a bit altruistic in some way.
Come, come, whoever you are. Wanderer, worshiper, lover of leaving. It doesn't matter. Ours is not a caravan of despair. Come, even if you have broken your vows a thousand times. Come, yet again, come, come.” Rumi (No sniggering from the sex addicts)
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Re: Sponsorship Question

Postby whipping post » Tue Feb 02, 2016 6:54 pm

There is a very good pamphlet on sponsorship from AA if you google it. I'm not sure if we are allowed to post links here or not.
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Re: Sponsorship Question

Postby emeraldg » Wed Feb 03, 2016 6:07 am

whipping post wrote:There is a very good pamphlet on sponsorship from AA if you google it. I'm not sure if we are allowed to post links here or not.


Thank you. I have read the pamphlet but still do not understand the questions in my original post. Thanks so much for the tip though
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Re: Sponsorship Question

Postby avaneesh912 » Wed Feb 03, 2016 6:30 am

It has been brought to my attention that a newcomer (or perhaps anyone) to A.A is not required to have a sponsor. I did not realize. Can anyone please elaborate on this?


Gone are the days, when new members had to be sponsored into the fellowship. Today the landscape has changed. People throw this 3rd tradition at people who suggest that the new-comer start working the 12 steps with a person who has gone through the steps already. Which is fine. People who do want to get out of their self and would want to help the new-comers are going to go up to the new-comer and talk about the program. While others who mis-interpret the "attraction not promotion" tradition, which btw is for the media, not for the people walking into the rooms, will wait for the new-comer to approach them. We can't do crap about it.

also, what are your thoughts on the other end of the spectrum: is a longer term member required or at the very least STRONGLY encouraged to eventually BE a sponsor?


Again, we can't force anybody into anything. If he/she did work the 12 steps with the help of an able sponsor, the desire would have awakened within to help others. We don't have to say anything. The power they tapped into will force them to do.
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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Re: Sponsorship Question

Postby leejosepho » Wed Feb 03, 2016 7:41 am

emeraldg wrote:It has been brought to my attention that a newcomer (or perhaps anyone) to A.A is not required to have a sponsor.

Correct, but then I would have died drunk if I had not found someone who both could (where some cannot) and who would (where some would not) teach me how to live. So while no A.A. member *ever* has any kind of authority over any other and A.A. can demand nothing from anyone, it is alcoholism that wields "the big stick" saying we must have help lest we die...

"Under the lash of alcoholism, we are driven to A.A., and...stand ready to do anything which will lift the merciless obsession from us." (12&12, Step One)

emeraldg wrote:Also...is a longer term member required or at the very least STRONGLY encouraged to eventually BE a sponsor?

Same overall principle applies there:

"Our very lives, as ex-problem drinkers, depend upon our constant thought of others and how we may help meet their needs." ("Alcoholics Anonymous", page 20)

We first take the Steps in order to learn how to do that, and I had to have a sponsor "responsible for my (new) default" in order for that to happen...

"Sponsor, noun [Latin]: A surety; one who binds himself to answer for another, and is responsible for his default." (Webster, 1828)

Having since recovered and while grateful for the selfless, unconditional help I was given, I cannot even imagine not wanting or not being willing to now do the same for someone else.
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Re: Sponsorship Question

Postby Brock » Wed Feb 03, 2016 7:46 am

I think I am the one who first bought to emeraldg's attention that sponsorship is not mandatory, by mentioning that fact in her other thread, perhaps I can have a go at explaining my position.

Certain people like myself, (I came into the program for the last time at 60 years of age, and had been my own boss work wise), can be very independent and don't easily ask for help. Also the little help that was offered, and some of the things I heard and read of what sponsors were advising their sponsees to do put me off completely. People were saying they meet to talk about “stuff,” when I asked what stuff meant I got the idea it's to talk about what's happening in our lives, other things like e-mailing daily inventory was utter madness to me. Tosh has put what he thinks a sponsor should do about as close to what I can agree with, one thing he mentioned is that he is not a life coach, and I believe more sponsors should burn that into their minds.

We have almost too many internet based sites which can assist someone to do the steps, it makes picking the best more difficult. For me I found Joe & Charlie, Barefoot's world and the Big book Bunch very useful. If I can sit in the comfort of my home and listen to over ten hours of Joe & Charlie, explaining the program, stopping frequently to ponder on what is said, or just to have a coffee, making notes reading the book along with them, then Goggling for further information on any points I make note of, what more do I really need, a shoulder to cry on, no thanks.

Some say they need someone to keep them accountable, I don't understand, I came to AA after two previous “attempts” many years ago, out of a third world psychiatric hospital admitted against my will, and held in restraints there for some time, I begged God for another chance and embraced AA, I was accountable to God and myself for the better life I had to find.

As for people like us not being able to sponsor others, because we didn't have someone show us how to do the program, well I believe I know the program very very well, and am still learning, due to endless research and weighing every suggestion, most importantly not looking for the easy way out, which is another thing people say those without sponsors do, well if you don't need this badly enough that you will look for the easy way then I agree find a sponsor. I would like to say more things like those without sponsors depending more on God, but this post is too long already.
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Re: Sponsorship Question

Postby clouds » Wed Feb 03, 2016 9:08 am

I got a sponsor within a few weeks of starting AA, and had sponsors for the first two plus years. The sponsor who assisted me learning what the steps were all about was pretty much a no nonsense big booker, which helped me immensly. A lot of what I got from the step group I joined as my home group was really how I managed to take the steps but it was my sponsor who grounded me in the principles of living a spiritual life that are the basis of the 12 step program.

I was in my second year of sobriety when I sponsored my first newcomer. Sponsoring is a good thing, my first sponsee did the steps in less time than I did. This experience taught me a lot more about the steps than I knew before! I have had sponsees who didn't want to pick up the tools and take the steps but still stayed sober, to my surprise. My advice is always to take the steps toward developing a spiritual way of living that will provide a sober life. Those who aren't ready for that ( the steps) are free to do as they choose. I haven't had the need to stop sponsoring anyone. If they don't begin the steps, or understand how crucial it is to sobriety to take the steps, I probably annoy them by talking about step related things all the time until they begin to get this feeling they don't really need a sponsor anymore and yet they keep going to meetings. Eventually they just call me less and less. That has been my experience.
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Re: Sponsorship Question

Postby Tosh » Wed Feb 03, 2016 10:46 am

clouds wrote:Eventually they just call me less and less.


I think that shows you've been a good teacher. Reliance upon God 'n' all that (not us mere humans). :lol:
Come, come, whoever you are. Wanderer, worshiper, lover of leaving. It doesn't matter. Ours is not a caravan of despair. Come, even if you have broken your vows a thousand times. Come, yet again, come, come.” Rumi (No sniggering from the sex addicts)
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Re: Sponsorship Question

Postby ezdzit247 » Thu Feb 04, 2016 1:18 pm

emeraldg wrote:Hello,

It has been brought to my attention that a newcomer (or perhaps anyone) to A.A is not required to have a sponsor. I did not realize. Can anyone please elaborate on this?


There are no references to the words "sponsor", "sponsee", or "sponsorship" in the BB's first 164 pages outlining the AA program and how it works, not even in Chapter 7's directions for working with others. AA's Traditions clearly state there's only one requirement for AA membership: a desire to stop drinking.

emeraldg wrote: Also, what are your thoughts on the other end of the spectrum: is a longer term member required or at the very least STRONGLY encouraged to eventually BE a sponsor?


AA has no hierarchy. There is no requirement for any member to have a sponsor nor is there any requirement for any member to be a sponsor either. If a newcomer wants another AA member to help guide them through the Steps they are free to choose a sponsor based on their own criteria and it's generally someone who has what they want. Most AA members who have worked through the Steps already know they have to "give it away to keep it" and are into service work anyway, including guiding other members through the Steps. This informal system has worked very well for many decades in the AA fellowship. I don't see any reason for adding any new requirements to the AA program other than the one we have.
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Re: Sponsorship Question

Postby Roberth » Wed Feb 10, 2016 12:57 pm

hello emeraldg here are my thoughts on your questions.
Question 1
Is it a requirement to get a sponsor? The simple answer is no. there had been successful AAers that have managed to have a quality life without one. Chuck C comes to mind, he was one of Bill W close friend. This book a new pair of glasses is a very interesting read. With that said I haven’t seen too many people that have been very successful without one. For me I was lucky I didn’t pick a sponsor he pick me and in hindsight I am so glad I didn’t get a chance to choose one because I didn’t truly know what I needed.
Question 2
Is long term sobriety a requirement to be a sponsor? The simple answer is no again. I have seen long-timers than I wouldn’t ask for the time of day. I think a person need to have something to offer to be a descent sponsor. my sponsor told me right off he would not tell me what to do but what he would do and leave it up to me.
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Re: Sponsorship Question

Postby larrylive » Thu Feb 11, 2016 11:13 am

No, you do not need a sponsor, unless you can't read. Then you may want someone to read the instructions (AA Big Book) to you. You will need to become a sponsor, by which I mean explaining the program,perhaps even reading the book to a still sick & suffering alcoholic. But that's a few steps down the road, which is hopefully where you will be in the next couple of days.

Be Well,
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Re: Sponsorship Question

Postby tyg » Thu Feb 11, 2016 3:43 pm

Alcoholics Anonymous does not mention the word "sponsor" in its pages but, "intensive work with other alcoholics." is sponsorship. That is all sponsorship is is one alcoholic showing another how they can recover through the 12 Steps and the support of the fellowship.

Ebby showed Bill W. how to apply the 12 Steps in their lives, Bill W. showed Dr. Bob and so on. When Bill and Bob sought out other alcoholics to help, they had meetings in their homes, helping the newcomer be a part of and have support as they started their new life sober.

In the book, Alcoholics Anonymous and history, The 12 Steps were always taken with another alcoholic showing them how. The 5th Step can be done with anyone.
I have tried to work the steps on my own and failed. I have read the book when new to AA. Guiding myself to sobriety, my mind would justify ways to eliminate things or take the easier way. It was better for me to have another alcoholic guide me for my first couple years while building a solid foundation with my spiritual growth. In my working with others and time spent in meetings. I see failure rates most with those that do not have another alcoholic take them through the 12 Steps and help them build a support group in the fellowship with service work.
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Re: Sponsorship Question

Postby Brock » Thu Feb 11, 2016 5:28 pm

I have tried to work the steps on my own and failed.

I fear that your 'failure' is causing you to be a little to passionate in your promoting the need of a sponsor.
That is all sponsorship is one alcoholic showing another how they can recover through the 12 Steps and the support of the fellowship.

If all sponsors would bear this in mind, perhaps those of us who recovered without one might have changed our mind. Also when I and many others I know speak in meetings, we attempt to do exactly as was stated, show others how it's done, and we often speak of the benefits of service work, both here and in meetings.
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Re: Sponsorship Question

Postby tyg » Fri Feb 12, 2016 1:28 am

Brock wrote: by Brock » Thu Feb 11, 2016 2:28 pm
I have tried to work the steps on my own and failed.

I fear that your 'failure' is causing you to be a little to passionate in your promoting the need of a sponsor.

Likewise for your opinions for not having one. Though it is my ES&H, I also see it happening way too often, those who get another alcoholic to guide them, have much higher recovery rates. It is okay that you disagree, but my personal experience working with others and getting to know the people that come in & out of the rooms show me that... it is better for one to have a sponsor who teaches them how to recover than doing it on their own by sponsoring themselves.
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