How much is Sponsorship from the Founders/Early Pioneers and how much is accretion?

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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TominSFHAIGHT
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How much is Sponsorship from the Founders/Early Pioneers and how much is accretion?

Post by TominSFHAIGHT »

Don't get me wrong, I'm a grateful AA member and have been positive towards the Fellowship for 25 years, although I do a 5-year break to some experimenting--with typical results.

I don't find a LOT written on sponsorship, but I find a LOT of assumptions, such as:

1. Everybody, ALWAYS, should have a sponsor, who also should have a sponsor.

2. You should always be working the Steps with your Sponsor.

My problem with this is I find in practice:

1. Sponsors can become a combination father/mother-figure, spiritual guide, a mentor in all matters, not just those regarding the Steps and other facets of AA life.

2. Sponsees can naively assume magical powers proceed from the sponsor.

3. Sponsors can feel like they are missing something if they have no sponsees.

Ideally, perhaps, we could ALL sponsor newcomers or those with less time than us. Of course, practically, it is more efficient to pair people off to be sure newcomers get enough attention and are able to work on their Steps as fast as possible. I just don't find, in reading the BB, that Sponsorship was as big a deal as it seems to be today.

I personally have had several sponsors, but have had yet to have gone thru all 12 Steps thoroughly. I found them mostly helpful, one of them was awful, but I got rid of him fast. Mainly, what I like most was finding out I matterred, that I had a friend, that I wasn't alone, and that there was a way out I could apply.

Ironically enough, I am also a spiritual seeker of sorts. I have benefitted from spiritual guidance from other people. A lot of it good, some of it cultic and self-serving, before I could recognize the difference. And I also find that many people seeme to approach AA itself as a kind of spritual path and/or a path of psychological growth. I find it amazingly helpul in that way. HOWEVER, I am not SURE this is what the initial purpose was. I'm not sure that I have read anything about 'ongoing spiritual revelations' to be obtained.

In other words, I think perhaps AA in some places has evolved almost to be too much of a good thing. A non-religious spiritual path offerring many more benefits than mere abstenence from alcohol. Which isn't necessaily a bad thing, just different than what it presents itself to be.!
Last edited by TominSFHAIGHT on Sun Jul 26, 2020 5:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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positrac
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Re: How much is Sponsorship from the Founders/Early Pioneers and how much is accretion?

Post by positrac »

Could say a lot about this post from my perspective and 30 plus years sober. By why? we all deal with this disease in our own ways and some find success and others are not so lucky.
Work hard, stay positive, and get up early. It's the best part of the day.
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D'oh
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Re: How much is Sponsorship from the Founders/Early Pioneers and how much is accretion?

Post by D'oh »

positrac wrote:
Sun Jul 26, 2020 5:13 pm
Could say a lot about this post from my perspective and 30 plus years sober. By why? we all deal with this disease in our own ways and some find success and others are not so lucky.
I will add 1 thing.
I don't find a LOT written on sponsorship, but I find a LOT of assumptions, such as:
Read Dr Bob and the Good Old-timers. Sponsors (when the BB was written) might have started as Members who introduced you to the Program. growing to Mentor types. In the beginning, there were no "Walk Ins". One had to be Interviewed, even their Families had to be Interviewed, Detoxed, before coming Chaperoned to a Meeting.

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Brock
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Re: How much is Sponsorship from the Founders/Early Pioneers and how much is accretion?

Post by Brock »

I see the reply to positrac regarding his post was taken down, unfortunate I think, because many in AA feel that simply sweeping these questions under the carpet with trite answers or little sayings is sufficient. I do not, and believe as most here know, that the whole concept of sponsorship has grown into something the founders never intended.

Yes as D’oh says, in the early days there were mentors who spoke to newcomers before they came to a meeting, but that was only in a couple large cities where meetings were available. The book was intended more as a self teaching manual for alcoholics, rather than a handbook for sponsors. In AA comes of age, Bill speaks about those readers who would live in areas without meetings, he says it’s the reason they put in stories from alcoholics to help these folks identify.

When The 12 & 12 was written eight years later sponsors were mentioned, but only in the context of what they might say regarding questions about each step. It seemed quite clear that a sponsors only duty was to help a newcomer through the steps.

Fast forward to 1975 when the book ‘Living Sober’ was introduced, with a section called ‘Availing yourself of a sponsor.’ There clear as day on page 30 we see these words – “And the best sponsors are really delighted when the newcomer is able to step out past the stage of being sponsored.” If we were still in doubt that sponsorship should end after the steps were completed, this erased all doubt.

But more recently we have seen this trend, where instructions are given to newcomers, that they pick a sponsor who has a sponsor of their own. I believe this advise is given in the 2017 guide to sponsorship, and is repeated here and elsewhere whenever a newcomer asks about sponsorship.

So I believe that we in AA have come up with this idea about sponsorship over the years, and that it has led to the problems indicated in the original post -
My problem with this is I find in practice:

1. Sponsors can become a combination father/mother-figure, spiritual guide, a mentor in all matters, not just those regarding the Steps and other facets of AA life.

2. Sponsees can naively assume magical powers proceed from the sponsor.

3. Sponsors can feel like they are missing something if they have no sponsees.
The book explains clearly where our answers come from, with words like these - “We relax and take it easy. We don't struggle. We are often surprised how the right answers come after we have tried this for a while. What used to be the hunch or the occasional inspiration gradually becomes a working part of the mind.” It is a spiritual program, if we keep phoning the sponsor every time we have a problem, it inflates their ego and ignores the instructions in the book. It also enforces the wrong idea so many seem to have today, regarding sobriety depending on ‘support’ from other humans. All this ‘support group’ talk is fine for newcomers until the spiritual experience takes over, but we are converting the program from one in which we depend on support from a higher power, to support from mere humans. I guess we shouldn’t be surprised, it seems the popular thing now is looking for support from all sorts of animals, and arguing or going to court to enforce our right to bring them into the restaurants or on the airplanes. So I suppose support from a human animal should be seen as a better alternative, but judging from their written history, most certainly not what the founders had in mind.
"Good morning, this is your Higher Power speaking. I will not be needing your help today."

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PaigeB
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Re: How much is Sponsorship from the Founders/Early Pioneers and how much is accretion?

Post by PaigeB »

Brock wrote:
Mon Jul 27, 2020 7:12 am
When The 12 & 12 was written eight years later sponsors were mentioned, but only in the context of what they might say regarding questions about each step. It seemed quite clear that a sponsors only duty was to help a newcomer through the steps.
:D That's what I as going to say! :wink: Bill learned a lot between the BB and the 12&12. Around here that is still the truth. I will say, "talk to a doctor", "talk to a shrink", "talk to a priest" or "talk to your HP" a lot especially with new sponsees. I don't know it all... not even about the BB. I encourage a lot of meeting so they have a broad base of support and experience from others in the program. In Iowa District 8 we tend to have sponsors long term. Even if we change sponsors, we remain sponsored and keep working the Steps in various ways.

I am not really familiar with who wrote Living Sober, (written by AA member Barry Leach) but I read it once... seemed a bit like the stuff heard in treatment centers. Some people come away thinking candy is the solution! I also heard that GSO might be thinking of dropping it from the list of Conf. Approved Literature. I seldom have it on my suggested reading list: The Big Book and the 12 Steps and 12 Traditions... oh and Daily Reflections! LOVE that book!
Cling to the thought that, in God's hands, the dark past is the greatest possession you have - the key to life and happiness for others. With it you can avert death and misery for them. page 124 BB

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positrac
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Re: How much is Sponsorship from the Founders/Early Pioneers and how much is accretion?

Post by positrac »

I wasn't sweeping anything under the carpet as sponsorship is a carry over of what we've learned. Possibly the reasons for not having specified guidelines is because not one person is cookie cutter drunks! I could be delusional and lost grip with reality. I came to AA with a lot of baggage at 23 years old and those not yets had not occurred to me until years later sober and believe me I have a lot of not yets and they were very difficult because I thought I was exempt! What did my sponsor say? I told you so! Wasn't what I hoped to hear.

I am sober and I rarely delve into the why's now as I know if I do my part the rest will follow.

Just my take.
Work hard, stay positive, and get up early. It's the best part of the day.
George Allen, Sr.

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PaigeB
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Re: How much is Sponsorship from the Founders/Early Pioneers and how much is accretion?

Post by PaigeB »

PaigeB wrote:
Mon Jul 27, 2020 12:25 pm
:D That's what I as going to say! :wink: Bill learned a lot between the BB and the 12&12.
I should say Bill "experienced" a lot!

Learning and experiencing give a completely different level of personal understanding! I believe that is what makes a difference in what we pass on and how it is received!

Learn = know and tell
Experience = KNOW and share

:wink: :wink: :wink:
Cling to the thought that, in God's hands, the dark past is the greatest possession you have - the key to life and happiness for others. With it you can avert death and misery for them. page 124 BB

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