Is it required to be a Sponsor

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?

Is it required to be a Sponsor

Postby intoxicated_in_aa » Thu May 19, 2016 7:14 am

My Sponsor continually suggests that I have not completed the 12 steps since I have not Sponsored someone. I also have some other issues with my Sponsor - that he cannot setup a set call time every week. Many times I call and he never calls back claiming he is tied up with something else at that moment. When I do reach him, he claims that I haven't found a Sponsee and that I have not attended more than one meeting per week. I am currently around 4 years sober.

In the past, I wanted to find a new sponsor since I no longer feel comfortable with this Sponsor - I honestly feel like they do not care. My main question was whether you need to be a Sponsor to continue in the program and also, if I should consider finding a new Sponsor.
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Re: Is it required to be a Sponsor

Postby Duke » Thu May 19, 2016 7:30 am

My own experience is that having a Sponsor or being one, is one way I assure that I stay accountable and actively engaged in service work directed towards our primary purpose. Neither is required since our program is one of suggestions based on actual experience.

I can't tell you whether you should get a different sponsor or not. I can tell you that many people have changed sponsors without dire consequences.

Best of luck to you. And congratulations on your continued sobriety.
"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: Is it required to be a Sponsor

Postby clouds » Thu May 19, 2016 7:56 am

I don't think it is necessary to sponsor someone to have completed the 12 steps.

Its kind of dependent on someone asking you to sponsor them, so that would have some bearing on sponsorship.
Some people offer to sponsor newcomers.
The more meetings you get to, then the more likely someone will ask you to sponsor them.

I sponsored several women, but there have been times in these later years of sobriety when no sponsees have come my way. I find other ways to be of service in AA. Washing up the cups after, helping set up chairs before, literature commitee, on the list for first step calls are some ways you can do 12 step, or service work in AA other than sponsorship.

Just consistantly being at your home group and its business meetings is a really good example of humble sobriety.
It was a good sign when I saw the same AA members at meetings week after week, still sober and smiling. :D
" Burn the idea into the consciousness of every man that he can get well regardless of anyone. The only condition is that he trust in God and clean house." page 98 A.A.
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Re: Is it required to be a Sponsor

Postby Brock » Thu May 19, 2016 8:55 am

The 12 & 12 explains that there are many types of 12 step work -
Nor is this the only kind of Twelfth Step work. We sit in A.A. meetings and listen, not only to receive something ourselves, but to give the reassurance and support which our presence can bring. If our turn comes to speak at a meeting, we again try to carry A.A.'s message. Whether our audience is one or many, it is still Twelfth Step work. There are many opportunities even for those of us who feel unable to speak at meetings or who are so situated that we cannot do much face-to-face Twelfth Step work. We can be the ones who take on the unspectacular but important tasks that make good Twelfth Step work possible, perhaps arranging for the coffee and cake after the meetings, where so many skeptical, suspicious newcomers have found confidence and comfort in the laughter and talk. This is Twelfth Step work in the very best sense of the word. “Freely ye have received; freely give . . .” is the core of this part of Step Twelve.

Also, to me one of the most important parts of the step -
Now comes the biggest question yet. What about the practice of these principles in all our affairs?

Perhaps it's possible since he doesn't take your calls, that he is one of those who does not see the need for a sponsor after you do the steps, and is perhaps embarrassed to tell you. They are many like that myself included, I know that long term sponsorship is fairly common and I am not ill speaking it, for me however it is quite sufficient to ponder what God would have me do, as the book says, “we come to rely on it.”

The book Living Sober says this on page 30. “And the best sponsors are really delighted when the newcomer is able to step out past the stage of being sponsored.” It goes on to say that we don't have to go it entirely alone, many in AA might approach another member for advise, that has the added advantage of picking the person who you judge might have the most to offer on a particular subject.

Best of luck to you in finding the right answer.
The seed has been planted in his mind. He knows that thousands of men, much like himself, have recovered. B.B. P.113
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Re: Is it required to be a Sponsor

Postby Reborn » Thu May 19, 2016 10:14 am

Page 14 and 15...

My friend had emphasized the absolute necessity of demonstrating these principles in all my affairs. Particularly was it imperative to work with others as he had worked with me. Faith without works was dead, he said. And how appallingly true for the alcoholic! For if an alcoholic failed to perfect and enlarge his spiritual life through work and self-sacrifice for others, he could not survive the certain trials and low spots ahead. If he did not work, he would surely drink again, and if he drank, he would surely die. Then faith would be dead indeed. With us it is just like that.

One way I pass on this message is going into treatment facilities and sharing my story. My sponsor told me "if you're having trouble finding sponsees...get off your ass and do something about it." I've been doing this now for about 6 months and it is very rewarding. I know that if I stay involved that the opportunity to work with others always presents itself. I ask in my morning prayer how I can be of maximum service to the alcoholic who still suffers and then I take action. Like it says above Faith without works is Dead...I'm so grateful for AA...and I don't want to drink again so I do what is suggested...pass it on.
We have recovered, and have been given the power to help others. BB pg 132
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Re: Is it required to be a Sponsor

Postby Spirit Flower » Thu May 19, 2016 10:58 am

I don't sponsor people because I don't like it and am not good at it. It would be unfair of me to mess with another person like that. I do service work in other ways.
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Re: Is it required to be a Sponsor

Postby Tosh » Fri May 20, 2016 12:02 am

intoxicated_in_aa wrote:My Sponsor continually suggests that I have not completed the 12 steps since I have not Sponsored someone. I also have some other issues with my Sponsor - that he cannot setup a set call time every week. Many times I call and he never calls back claiming he is tied up with something else at that moment. When I do reach him, he claims that I haven't found a Sponsee and that I have not attended more than one meeting per week. I am currently around 4 years sober.

In the past, I wanted to find a new sponsor since I no longer feel comfortable with this Sponsor - I honestly feel like they do not care. My main question was whether you need to be a Sponsor to continue in the program and also, if I should consider finding a new Sponsor.


I can relate to your sponsor. When I sponsor my aim is to get them to depend on 'God', not me. I don't want weekly calls from them, I want them chasing down new guys. I'm too busy working with, or looking for, the next new guy than to spend time with needy sponsees who appear to be placing their dependence upon me, rather than 'God'.

I'm an atheist; I see the word 'God' as a metaphor.

I have sponsored a guy with a Borderline Personality Disorder and he really used to get upset because I wasn't always 'there' when he needed me. I suggested he find some newcomers, that he gets some newcomers into his car, that he tries to carry the message of recovery to them.

He got angry with me and drank.

What role do you see a sponsor as having for you? I see my role as helping a guy with his 12 Step program and helping them get to 'God'. Once that's been achieved, and it really isn't that difficult (God doesn't make hard terms), then my role is just a friend, though they may still call me their sponsor. I'll try to mentor longer term sober guys with their spiritual development, but really, I'm not a spiritual guru - I have my own problems with spiritual growth - and I often find myself suggesting that they find a helpful book, or to be quick to see where the religious are right.

I have a family, I work, there's things I like to do for fun, and of course there's newcomers. I won't spend an inordinate amount of time with guys who have been through the 12 Step program. As my sponsor once said to me "I cannot work your program for you!"

Hard, but true.
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: Is it required to be a Sponsor

Postby Tosh » Fri May 20, 2016 12:16 am

Brock wrote: and is perhaps embarrassed to tell you.


I used to find it difficult to give 'hard truths' to guys I was working with. My sponsor's advice was to 'just be honest with them'.

I like that. It needs to be done with some compassion though, otherwise there's a fine line between being honest or just being a plain old nasty person.

"Do I look fat in this dress?"

With compassion an honest reply could be "It's not the most flattering dress for you, my darling!"

Without compassion the reply sounds like "You look fat in everything!"

Just being honest doesn't mean being a nasty person.
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: Is it required to be a Sponsor

Postby tyg » Sun Jun 05, 2016 4:53 am

It would be a shame to miss out on all the miracles that come when showing others how they to can recover by taking them through the steps. I've found it to be vital for healthy sobriety. I don't know if I'd be still sober without it. Doing so has saved & blessed me in so many ways and has helped me to get through all my struggles. Here is what AA says,

"We alcoholics are undisciplined. So we let God discipline us in the simple way we have just outlined.
But this is not all. There is action and more action. "Faith without works is dead." The next chapter is entirely devoted to Step Twelve. (Pg 88)


Many other parts of AA talks about how, "intensive work with other alcoholics" insures immunity to drinking like nothing else will and helps remedy self-pity and resentments. Check out, " A Vision for you" it has much insight in working with others to.

One is ready to sponsor as soon as they have done the 12 Steps with a recovered alcoholic. I remember being scared of not being capable enough when I first started working with others but, that goes away the more I did it. Also, I get many sponsee's from approaching them instead of waiting for others to approach me.
~The secret to the AA program is the first three words on page 112~
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Re: Is it required to be a Sponsor

Postby Larryp713 » Tue Jun 07, 2016 6:50 am

My sponsor told me that I should be willing to help anyone who asks me, but I am not out campaigning to be anybody's sponsor. When I have been asked, I talk about what I can do to help the person work the steps. One person decided to ask somebody else, another person went out a couple days later and when they came back in a week, said they would ask another person to sponsor them. I do have one sponsee I am working with who is working on their ninth step now, and another sponsee on his 4th/5th. They are all successful relationships for me, because in each case I was willing to share what had been freely shared with me. It is up to the other person to work the program, and if they need another voice than mine, I am ok with it.

Long way of stating my belief that it is not required to be a sponsor, but you should be willing to sponsor if asked. If I refuse to help another, I can't say that I am honoring the responsibility statement. Good luck - Larry
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Re: Is it required to be a Sponsor

Postby Larryp713 » Tue Jun 07, 2016 6:53 am

BTW, congrats on four years. I would say you should pray about your sponsor situation. I made a change last year because of the same thing - my relationship with my first sponsor was no longer about recovery, and I needed to get plugged in. It sounds like you're at a crossroads. But I also think you will get a lot of at least greeting and talking to newcomers, even if you are not their sponsor.
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Re: Is it required to be a Sponsor

Postby Rain » Tue Sep 27, 2016 9:12 am

(b) That probably no human power could have relieved our alcoholism.

The BB insists on having a top-priority dependence on a higher power above many things, then its followed by contact with aa members and being a "part of" in our collective aa community, I feel, most of us face the same problems of alcoholism. I know that sponsorship is an important part of of my recovery, I'm sure it plays a large part for many others. Personally, I've always shied away from too much dependence on people as I do have issues, deeper issues, for starters, "unresolved abandonment issues as a child" which I had to admit after my denial started wearing thin

I would love to go at "it" alone and often I find myself in meetings thinking "what am I doing here, I'm okay, I haven't had a drink in a while ..and why do I need to be here?" I try to listen to others and think of my past, I hear "remember your last drunk" and then I remember, ugh, gawd it was an ugly bi... situation.
Its been a while and a lot of people, friends and family tell me I'm different, nicer and more level-headed; personally, I don't feel any different but the program has taught me a few things, 1. be cool with people, and 2. when humanly possible, avoid resentments and get help.

I have two sponsors, One, my recovery sponsor and Two. My service sponsor I met from an Area Assembly.
Those two are definitely ..pis..ng.. um,.. "challenging me" in my recovery and I'm learning to be grateful to my HP for the good and bad.
Me, a work in progress I tell myself and a good sponsor can be helpful and supportive
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Re: Is it required to be a Sponsor

Postby Bcarolan » Sun Nov 12, 2017 12:10 pm

I don't think you need a sponsor to have a successful recovery, nor are you obligated to sponsor anyone. I have never had a sponsor and have had a successful recovery closing in on 6.5 yrs. That being said, since I have never had a sponsor I will not sponsor anyone. I always offer my phone# and will help someone however I can, but I don't think it is fair to sponsor someone unless you have been sponsored.

There are many ways to serve and give back to the recovery community, but mandating sponsorship is garbage. Each persons recovery journey is their own. People should not be pressured into doing something they don't want to. I think anyone who says what your sponsor said to you is missing the mark, and shouldn't sponsor people. They are putting their ideas and/or values over yours! Recovery is about you vs someone else's idea as to what you should do! That's my humble opinion.....
Fat, drunk, and stupid is no way to go through life...
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Re: Is it required to be a Sponsor

Postby Brock » Sun Nov 12, 2017 1:52 pm

I agree with what Bcarolan says, except the part of it not being fair to sponsor someone if you weren’t sponsored yourself. I am not particularly interested in sponsoring anyone, and never have, but I will stand up for my right to do so.

I also advise newcomers that getting a sponsor should make the process easier, without one I had much research to do, and many different opinions and ideas to try, but I found the answers and good recovery. All that work opened my mind to the fact that there are many different types that enter the rooms, the approach of some sponsors is one way, the way their sponsor showed them. But some need the steps quicker than others, and may have different hangups about higher powers, a person who was exposed to many recommendations and trials in working out the program, may have a better all round knowledge, and be a more open minded sponsor.

Even though the original post is over a year old, and the poster may not read these replies, what they said about their own sponsor demonstrates the narrow minded attitude - “My Sponsor continually suggests that I have not completed the 12 steps since I have not Sponsored someone….When I do reach him, he claims that I haven't found a Sponsee and that I have not attended more than one meeting per week. I am currently around 4 years sober.” So here is a sponsor who believes that even though the sponsee is four years sober, they haven’t completed the steps, even though step twelve speaks about carrying the message, not sponsorship. And if he is also upset that at four years you only go to one meeting a week, I will bet a million bucks he is following what his sponsor tells him, and lacks the common sense to see that there are other ways to work the program, and people different from himself to sponsor.
The seed has been planted in his mind. He knows that thousands of men, much like himself, have recovered. B.B. P.113
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Re: Is it required to be a Sponsor

Postby desypete » Sun Nov 12, 2017 8:10 pm

Brock wrote:I agree with what Bcarolan says, except the part of it not being fair to sponsor someone if you weren’t sponsored yourself. I am not particularly interested in sponsoring anyone, and never have, but I will stand up for my right to do so.

I also advise newcomers that getting a sponsor should make the process easier, without one I had much research to do, and many different opinions and ideas to try, but I found the answers and good recovery. All that work opened my mind to the fact that there are many different types that enter the rooms, the approach of some sponsors is one way, the way their sponsor showed them. But some need the steps quicker than others, and may have different hangups about higher powers, a person who was exposed to many recommendations and trials in working out the program, may have a better all round knowledge, and be a more open minded sponsor.

Even though the original post is over a year old, and the poster may not read these replies, what they said about their own sponsor demonstrates the narrow minded attitude - “My Sponsor continually suggests that I have not completed the 12 steps since I have not Sponsored someone….When I do reach him, he claims that I haven't found a Sponsee and that I have not attended more than one meeting per week. I am currently around 4 years sober.” So here is a sponsor who believes that even though the sponsee is four years sober, they haven’t completed the steps, even though step twelve speaks about carrying the message, not sponsorship. And if he is also upset that at four years you only go to one meeting a week, I will bet a million bucks he is following what his sponsor tells him, and lacks the common sense to see that there are other ways to work the program, and people different from himself to sponsor.


you would lose the bet
as its clear he is showing common sense by looking around for other ways by asking and highlighting what is going on for him in this post
he already has it in his head he might be better off finding another sponsor and he is unsure so is asking us what we think

so pay up =biggrin
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