The process of Sponsorship

Discussions related to 12 Step Sponsors, 12 Step Sponsoring, Working with others using the 12 Steps, for AA's, NA's, Al-Anons, Nar-Anons, OA, and others using the 12 Steps.
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The process of Sponsorship

Postby Kelly » Fri Feb 29, 2008 12:22 am

I have been wondering what the process for getting a sponsor is. It may talk about in the Big Book, but I haven't got to that part yet. It seems like it would be a very important and intimate relationship and I want to go about it the right way.

Are there certain rules regarding this? Is there a certain time period of being sober before you should approach a potential sponsor? Should you even approach someone about becoming your sponsor or does the potential sponsor approach you? How do you know if it's going to be a good match? Are women always sponsored by women and men with men?

There were 2 women at the meeting tonight who put their names and numbers on my card at my first meeting and I told them that I would be calling them both this weekend. :wink: Is it best to develop a relationship in this manner, before even thinking about getting a sponsor?

Thanks for any guidance you can give me.


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Postby Dallas » Fri Feb 29, 2008 5:21 am

Kelly wrote:It seems like it would be a very important and intimate relationship and I want to go about it the right way.

It is a very important relationship... and, the first right way of going about it will be to keep intimacy out of the relationship with a sponsor. :wink:

There is an A.A. named Dick M., from Nebraska, that did an awesome sponsorship workshop down in Florida, and they taped it and there are 3 CD's available of that workshop. I highly recommend them. The three talks are on:

1. How to pick a sponsor
2. How to be sponsored
3. How I sponsor


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Postby tj » Fri Feb 29, 2008 6:14 am


There is a web site from which you can download Dick M.'s talks or just listen to them. It has been a wonderful resource for me. I have downloaded many speaker tapes from there and listen to them as much as I can. It is not the same as going to a meeting but it helps me a great deal.

Getting a sponsor is very important and I encourage you to find one as soon as you can. It was hard for me and I agonized over it. One day at a meeting there was a woman who shared and I immediately wanted what she had. Bam--I decided to ask her to be my sponsor. She has 17 years of sobriety and we have alot in common. However, she is not there to be my friend. She is my sponsor and is to take me through the steps. I don't question what she asks me to do--I just do it because I know she has been down this road and I also know she seeks constant guidance from God. It has been a great experience. I am helping with her birthday party on Saturday, as a matter of fact. It should be a fun party with alot of sobriety there. What a blessing!!


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Postby Kelly » Fri Feb 29, 2008 8:21 am

Thanks Dallas and Manette! I will be checking out Dick M's workshop.

BTW, Dallas, by intimate relationship, I was meaning "detailed, deep, and very private". I might be wrong but I still think a relationship with a sponsor should be detailed, deep, and very private. :)

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Postby garden variety » Fri Feb 29, 2008 4:57 pm

Hi Kelly,

I'm really impressed that you brought up the subject of sponsorship. I posted a little something about mine over here in this topic thread:

I don't know about "deep" or "intimate". For me the most important part is trust. I had a sponsor I didn't choose at first - the group secretary just assigned him to me. I ended up "choosing" my current sponsor because I changed home groups. But the one that was "assigned" to me before at my old group was not someone I would have picked, but by golly that fellow turned out to be a great sponsor who is a friend still today. He was someone I knew I could trust, and he was totally honest with me - no BS or sugar coating even when it went against what some of the longtimers said. He had less sobriety than me and was younger, too.

But he was really a great man who helped me a whole lot - the most important part was going through the steps real careful and just like the book says. I tell you what - I could never be more thankful to a man than that fellow who knew the steps and was always right in line with the book. I really needed to work the steps with my best effort, and he was the one who helped me do that. At first he was not a close "friend" or "intimate" about anything. He did my fifth step with me and got mad at himself because he never did 5th's before, and realized he never wanted to do them again. But that actually was how him and me got to become friends later on down the line.

Now the man who is my sponsor today is a fellow I would not have chosen either. When I changed home groups, I knew a couple fellows that I really wanted to be my sponsor. Then one Sunday, out of the blue this guy walks up to me - he somehow could sense something wasn't quite right with me (I had some heavy decisions on my mind), but he seen me before and knew I wasn't a new guy. So he comes out of himself and just started things off by asking me if I needed a ride home. I said no and thanked him and thought no more about the guy.

But when the time came to choose the next sponsor at my new home group, I "almost" had my mind made up about these guys I knew - BUT I never asked or prayed about it. I shot off one of those "arrow prayers" that minute to "get the OK" from God about which one of the two guys I wanted to be my sponsor to pick. Almost instantly - really - the thought that never crossed my mind suddenly crossed my mind. I looked over at George from across the room and I found myself tearing up and getting chills - then I got a certainty about that fellow like I can't describe. He was a total stranger, never even knew him. But if there could be a "dialogue" between God and me, it went something like this.

"Which one God? Tom or John?" - I asked feeling eager to pick a guy I knew and called up before with many years of quality sobriety.

"Look over there by the door, Paul. See that fellow George?" - that would be God "talking".

I looked over at George with some confusion because I never thought anything about him. I actually didn't like his voice or what seemed like his gruff manner, but I did know he was sober for a long time.

"Him?" - me talking to God again.

"Who was the first man in this home group that ever offered to help you without you even asking for help?" - God talking again.

I said WHOA to myself! I thought about Tom and John, and they always helped me whenever I asked or called. But "God" was 100% correct - neither one ever asked me if I needed help on their own. George was the first man in the group to reach out and offer help - and he did it at a time when I had heavy stuff on my mind. I mean he just asked me if I needed a ride, but I know he sensed I had things on my mind and maybe he just wanted to start somewhere?

By this time in my sobriety, I knew pretty much it was a done deal and I really didn't have any argument with God. I just said "Well if you say him, then that's who I'll ask to sponsor me." I didn't sweat it over the other guys who I knew better. I just accepted who I "intuitively" knew was God's choice. I also figured since George wasn't someone I wanted or would have picked, then it follows what I was taught about not doing the things I want to do. My "will" wasn't even involved, but buddy my "spirit" knew the answer!

So I asked him, and he agreed.

That's where the strange parts disappeared and the really profound stuff started happening.

After I asked him, he gave me his number and told me where he lived. Then he said go sign up to attend the business meeting and dinner. I did what he said. He watched me and I walked back to him ready to leave. Then he says he's going on a "spiritual retreat" in Kentucky in a couple weeks - he thinks it woud be a good idea for me to go with him. Now I'm starting to wonder what in THEE HELL have I got into? They really get you to work right away in this group! He has to know that I'm not a Catholic! I never went on a retreat before.

I couldn't say no. I just told him I'll check it out at work if they'll let me take time off, trying my hardest to avoid the idea. Of course he must have picked up on this so he starts that "mind drilling" routine sponsors seem to intuitively know how to do. He asks where I work and I tell him. He says great, he also works for the same organization, but in a different agency and location - I shouldn't have any problems getting the time off. Call him up tomorrow to let him know if I can go.

I says and thinks to myself "Oh sh_it! I can't weasel out of this! This "MF" means business and he's got my number! I'll never be able to BS this guy!" Man that younger fellow in my old home group with less sobriety suddenly seemed like the best sponsor I ever had - maybe I shouldn't have changed groups. This went down the first night I asked George to be my sponsor.

Man, I was cornered. I couldn't back out of anything, and now I began to realize that this group was all about the business of ACTION in sobriety. I mean even after a few years of sobriety and working the steps the right way, I was still looking for the easier softer way. I was "comfortable" in my activity level at my other home group. I had the routines down and was in a comfortable pace and groove there. But here - A totally different animal!

The guys from my old home group were pointing and laughing at me from across the room. They must have seen the kodak expression of horror on my face from a distance. They knew I had just jumped in the deep side of the pool by joining this group and picking out George to be my sponsor. I went back to talk to them. My best buddy from my old group with 20 years says "Boy did you pick the right sponsor! You got a good sponsor!"

All this to say that if "my will" would have been involved, none of this would have went down this way. I'm too much of a real alcoholic, and way too lazy to get myself into this kind of work, commitment, and fellowship. I was looking for an easier softer way, but God was doing for me what HE KNEW I would never do for myself.

So I learned more about my sponsor and I could see real clear why God thought he was the best choice. I went home that night and it dawned on me - this guy George, when he offered me a ride home, he was going about 50 miles opposite the direction where he lived. He was willing to give me a ride home that would have kept him driving over an hour out of his way.

Today I realize what that really means, and I still am in awe about it. Like I said earlier, this guy knew something was on my mind the night he offered a ride. He might not have known what it was, but he knew if he rode me home, he'd have plenty of time to pry me open and find out.

Over time, I've given him some pretty big surprises, too. He thought he was getting a "low maintenance" potegee'. When I called him one day with certain Federal officials at my door, that took him off guard a bit. But all in all, we've both had a blast getting to know each other.

You see - new protege's really do keep their longer-time sponsors on their toes, too. We help them by being so off-kilter at first that they really have to get to thinking hard and pulling out the book and brushing up on their own sobriety. I have less than half the years sober here than Dallas, but buddy I know I keep that fellow on his toes. That's because newer folks are pretty much less predicatable. Weird and stupid stuff just flows out of our mouths and hearts at probably what seem the worst or most awkward times for our mentors - it just happens natural. I know without even looking that Dallas keeps his sponsor on his toes the same way. I think it's because each one of us is "new" every day if we're doing this thing right. We're new to some longtimer, and longtimers are even new to longer-timers.

It happens that way to me when I get a new protege'. They always help me just by being new with no clues about the program - sort of just like you Kelly. You will be a big blessing to the woman that sponsors you. You will help her so much and you don't even have to try or be anything other than a new girl without a clue how to live sober. It's a guarantee you'll help someone with more time than you. Gosh you really help me - really! I'm listening to Manette on here, and boy I sense her excitement and enthusiasm about you, and I'm right beside her. I understand that sense of wonder she's experiencing and sharing with us.

Really, I know this is long, but this is LIFE. It's a beautiful thing to actively be a part of. I hope my rambling on about sponsorship makes some sense to you or someone. Shoot sometimes I just talk too much!

OK I'll be seated now. Thanks Kelly!

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Postby Kelly » Sat Mar 01, 2008 10:42 am

Thank you so very much Paul! I love reading your posts. You really seem to get past all the BS and tell it like it is. That is very meaningful for me and for others, I am sure. I was reading posts here for a long time before I ever got the nerve to become a member of this forum...please don't ever underestimate the power of what you share. Reading some of the postings here led me to join in the forum, which led me to sharing my fears and my desire to stop drinking, which led to you all giving me the strength and courage to go to my first meeting, which led to my sobriety (1 week today! :D ). Everytime, I log on here, I see many "guests" online.....there are probably many others right now who were just like me and getting strength from reading the posts here. Soon, they too will be experiencing sobriety. What a glorious process! Thank you Paul!


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Postby Dallas » Sat Mar 01, 2008 1:17 pm

Congratulations on your 1 Week Sober, Kelly!!!! :wink:

And, thank you for your participation in the forum.

Did you ever stop to think of how many new people out there -- that come here to read -- but are too afraid to join in -- are reading and following up on your experience? :wink:

When they read about you -- they may get the idea that "Maybe... this might work for me, after all!" :wink: And, that's how we carry the message.

Back to the original topic:
TJ wrote:However, she is not there to be my friend. She is my sponsor and is to take me through the steps. I don't question what she asks me to do--I just do it because I know she has been down this road and I also know she seeks constant guidance from God.

There is a huge amount of often over-looked wisdom in what TJ, wrote above.

The difference in a Sponsor and a friend. When I start looking at my sponsor as my friend instead of my sponsor it can create some huge problems for me in my recovery. And, if my sponsor forgets that he's my sponsor instead of my friend -- it can be deadly.

My natural mind and my way of thinking I learned outside of sobriety isn't going to understand that concept. It will have difficulty with it. However, it's like many of those paradoxes that we learn in sobriety and in A.A. -- some things that work -- are backwards to how we learned that they were supposed to be. And, for me... this was why it was so vital to my sobriety that I become willing to let go of my old ideas that didn't work, for ideas that will work.

Thanks for sharing that, TJ.


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My name is Anne, I'm an alcoholic

Postby musicmode » Sun Mar 09, 2008 12:39 pm

First things first...get well and listen at the meetings. I have learned to not get a sponsor just because I need a sponsor. Don't misunderstand what I'm saying, a sponsor is important #######...but we don't just jump in, that in itself might give us the idea to go back out there, when in fact, our sponsor is still very sick...we just can't see that or possibly know that because we've yet to defog. Listen at the meetings...who is it you can really relate to when they speak? You feel as though they've crawled inside your head and had a look around, and now there they are, blabbing what's in your head all over the table for everyone in the room to hear--and all the while, you wonder "how the heck did you do that?" :shock: . Find out what their viewpoint is about the steps, and what step they are working on. I've heard that it's best that a sponsor should have gone thru the entire 12 steps at least once. One would think that anyone who comes up to you and tells you that she is your sponsor, that makes that decision easy/done for you..., and then she tells you not to speak to anyone else in the group, and to only speak sparingly at meetings--in otherwords, if you start to feel as though the BB is getting jammed down your throat...that person may...or may not be a good sponsor for you. I knew a lady who had 17 years in the program, her idea about the steps was that she did them once when she first came in, and that if you do them right the first time, you're cured, you never have to do your steps again. I'm not doing her works for her--that's just not the way I was taught.

The most important thing is to pray about it, and leave it with God as you understand Him. You can have a temp sponsor, some people have used their group as a sponsor until they got to know everyone. What I've done, too is, 'you' might not be my sponsor, but 'you' are in the program, and I really gotta unload this something, so lucky 'you' for being right in front of me. Take the other day for instance, about a week or 2 ago. I was in the store...I've been working my 4th step. In front of me at the check out was another member, she remembered she wanted to grab a newspaper, so she leaves her purse wide open and walks away to the paper stand. She comes back, I said to Donna, "you're trusting." She said why, I said to her--well don't cha know I'm a thief? She looks at me, cuz this is right out of left field...she asks me, "you are?" I nodded, said "yip, even willing to admit it." On the way out of the store, I said to her, "I'm just working my 4th step, and this is what I've discovered...thanks for allowing me to admit that." Sure there were other people around...from the outside, it looked like a bunch of kidding and ribbing, y'know? At the door, she stops, :idea: .. :shock: , then realizes what just happened and she says to me: You just did a 5th with me? I nodded and winked, and's that simple.

Sorry I went off into the ditch there on ya...I guess my point is, it's all about timing. The moment will come when you'll'll know it's time to unload something, but maybe the person who's been your sponsor is unavailable. Typical alcoholics, #### might get bent out of shape, and yes...resentful cuz our sponsor isn't there. If the person's in the program...that's good enough,'re keeping them sober, too.

Hope you all have a safe and happy 24,

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Postby GeoffS » Sun Mar 09, 2008 7:19 pm

Hey Kelly,

You'll hear people say 'pick a sponsor who has what you want' and thats right. But remember also to pick a sponsor who 'has what they want too'.

A happy sponsor is more likely to be doing something worth learning...

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Postby Dallas » Sun Mar 09, 2008 8:16 pm

Hey GeoffS,

That's a very wise suggestion that is often over-looked!

Thanks for sharing it.


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