Sponsorship in AA

linking hands

September 14, 2020

By Andy F

Categories: Sponsorship

Sponsorship in AA – The cornerstone of recovery from alcoholism

Dear friends,

Over the next five or six weeks, I will be putting up a weekly blog to address all the different facets of sponsorship in AA. It’s a subject of extreme importance for any alcoholic wanting to get happily sober in Alcoholics Anonymous. Without a doubt sponsorship in AA is the cornerstone of the recovery journey from active alcoholism.

Only a good and experienced sponsor can take you through the twelve steps effectively. Their experience of having been through the steps with their own sponsor is crucial. If they still have a sponsor themselves, this is an indication that they are still teachable and therefore humble.

Humility and a willingness to do this kind of service in AA are essential requirements.  Having had the personal experience of being taken through the steps themselves makes them uniquely qualified.

Healthy sponsorship boundaries in AA

Sponsorship is the way forward to a sober life that is fulfilling and meaningful. I will be addressing different aspects of sponsorship in AA that may be of particular interest to both current and prospective members of the fellowship. I will be offering a blog discussing what kind of awareness may facilitate an informed choice that can for example, offer healthy sponsorship boundaries in AA. Many of us have had great difficulty with setting healthy boundaries when we were drinking. This can continue to be a challenge in sobriety, especially within the potential sponsor/sponsee dynamic.

Sponsorship in AA: – A choice not to be taken lightly

Because we often struggle with unfortunate choices in our relationships and have difficulty setting healthy boundaries, it is not uncommon for newly sober members to choose bad sponsors in AA. Asking someone for sponsorship is an important decision and potentially life-saving.  It is not one that should be taken lightly. Based on my thirty six year journey in AA of which the first thirteen were characterized by continuous and recurring relapse, I have had the unique experience of having had at least twenty sponsors.

Tips and guides for making a prudent choice

Based on my experience, I will also be offering some helpful AA sponsorship tips. I hope that they may support you in finding a good sponsor that you can work with. In my early days of recovery, I remember reading the pamphlet that offers an AA sponsorship guide. Sadly, I didn’t take it or the whole idea of sponsorship very seriously. This attitude almost cost me my life.

The AA online sponsorship experience

In recent years, after twenty five years in AA, I had my first experience of AA online sponsorship. I will also be offering a blog about the online sponsorship experience. It has worked very well in terms of offering me a focused and task- driven sponsor/sponsee relationship.  I am still with the same sponsor ten years on. It has been such a rewarding and effective experience that I am completely satisfied with online sponsorship.

Making an informed choice when choosing an AA sponsor

I came into AA on May 15th 1984. And for the next thirteen years, despite my most determined efforts to stay sober, I was unable to stop drinking.  I go into some detail why I struggled for so long in my book “The twelve steps for agnostics.”  I also describe in the book how and why I gradually learned to tell the difference between good sponsors and bad sponsors.

I am not impressed by members that power share in meetings. Being a “power sharer” is by no means an indication that someone is well. I have met people along the way that can share very eloquently and with great authority about the Big Book. When however you get to know some of them, you realize that they are angry, controlling and overly domineering. 

All that glitters is not gold in AA

Some sponsors haven’t been able to internalize the humility offered in step seven as a desirable quality for effective sponsorship. Some members still have big egos and insist on the kind of sponsorship where they get to control the sponsee. They demand total compliance to their method of taking a sponsee through the step. Any non compliance can result in sharp criticism, judgment and sometimes even behaviors that amount to bullying. 

I have learned over the years that “all that glitters is not gold in AA” It has taken the experience of a long time in AA to develop the gift of discernment. Good judgment has become an important learning curve and has taught me, how to make an informed choice when considering a new sponsor.

Sometimes unfortunate and destructive character defects are cleverly concealed in a potential sponsor when you first meet them. Later on, you begin to realize that it may not have been such a good choice. It can sometimes be a rude awakening! AS someone new to AA, it is not always easy to choose wisely.

Conclusion: “When the student is ready the teacher will appear”

The sponsor/sponsee relationship can be compared to the roles of teacher and student. With this role comes responsibility both for the teacher and the student. A good teacher will be firm and disciplined but also kind and respectful towards the student. By the same token, a good student will respect and value the teacher and be willing to learn the material being passed on.

If there is mutual respect, trust follows. Once trust is achieved, the sponsee begins to naturally feel gratitude and appreciation for his/her mentor. A relationship of unconditional positive regard between sponsor and sponsee creates an environment that is most conducive to personal as well as spiritual growth.

Do you agree, that the sponsor/sponsee relationship is not unlike the one between student and teacher? What do you think about the necessity of there being mutual trust and respect between student and teacher?

In fellowship

Andy F

Please Share

Facebook Twitter WhatsApp