Saturday, June 14, 2008

More on sponsoring

Franny Glass asked if I would post more on the sponsor/sponsee relationship.

There is some great information from Al-Anon itself about what being a sponsor means. The pamphlet Sponsorship, What It's All About offers guidance on how to find a sponsor, what to expect of the relationship, and suggestions for sponsors.

I also found the following on line. I really like the "12 tips for being a sponsor":
  1. You are powerless over your sponsee and your sponsee's life is unmanageable by you. Neither of you would be in Al-Anon if you didn't have problems with unmanageability.
  2. You aren't in charge; your sponsee's Higher Power is. Believe that a power greater than either one of you can restore your sponsee to sanity.
  3. Make a decision at the beginning of your relationship with your sponsee to turn the sponsee's will and life over to the care of a power greater than either one of you.
  4. Be honest with yourself about your relationship with your sponsee. This is a great opportunity to observe your own behavior in a relationship.
  5. Admit to your Higher Power, yourself, and your own sponsor when you don't know what to do.
  6. Be ready to change things that aren't working: your schedule, the literature you work with, the response you give when your sponsee keeps bringing up the same problems.
  7. Before meeting with your sponsee, you might find it helpful to say a prayer such as this: “Higher Power, use me to say whatever it is you want my sponsee to hear today.”
  8. It is all right to make mistakes. You are not in charge of your sponsee's recovery; your sponsee's Higher Power is.
  9. If you feel you have given a bad direction or suggestion, let the sponsee know.
  10. It is all right if the relationship doesn't last. You may realize after a while that you are not able to work with a particular sponsee for whatever reason.
  11. Seek through prayer and meditation to understand your Higher Power's will for you in your role as sponsor. Pray for the power to carry out that role.
  12. Remember that you are carrying the message of recovery, nothing else. Take satisfaction from any sponsee who comes to understand and believe in the Al-Anon program of recovery.
And I found the following on the Qualities of Sponsorship from
  1. I will not help you to stay and wallow in limbo.

  2. I will help you to grow, to become more productive, by your definition.

  3. I will help you become more autonomous, more loving of yourself, more excited, less sensitive, more free to become the authority for your own living.

  4. I can not give you dreams or "fix you up" simply because I can not.

  5. I can not give you growth, or grow for you. You must grow for yourself by facing reality, grim as it may be at times.

  6. I can not take away your loneliness or your pain.

  7. I can not sense your world for you, evaluate your goals for you, tell you what is best for your world; because you have your own world in which you must live.

  8. I can not convince you of the necessity to make the vital decision of choosing the frightening uncertainty of growing over the safe misery of remaining static.

  9. I want to be with you and know you as a rich and growing friend; yet I can not get close to you when you choose not to grow.

  10. When I begin to care for you out of pity or when I begin to lose faith in you, then I am inhibiting both for you and for me.

  11. You must know and understand my help is conditional. I will be with you and "hang in there" with you so long as I continue to get even the slightest hint that you are still trying to grow.

  12. If you can accept this, then perhaps we can help each other to become what God meant us to be, mature adults, leaving childishness forever to the little children of the world.

And finally here is one that I give to my sponsees:

SPONSORSHIP -What It Is and What It Isn't

Four major points in sponsorship that most Twelve Step Fellowship members will agree on:

1.The primary responsibility of sponsors is to help their sponsees work the Twelve Steps.

2.A sponsor and sponsee have an obligation to discuss their mutual expectations, objectives, and requirements, if any, regarding the sponsorship relationship before they enter into that relationship.

3. A sponsor shares his or her experience, strength, and hope with his or her sponsee rather than trying to run the sponsee's life.

4. A sponsor must never take advantage of a sponsee in any way.


1. A sponsor's primary responsibility is to help a sponsee work the Twelve Steps by providing explanation, guidance, and encouragement.

2. A sponsor helps us get established quickly in our Fellowship by explaining basic concepts and terminology and by introducing us to other members.

3. A sponsor is a safe person who we can learn to trust.

4. A sponsor can answer the many questions that we have as newcomers or develop as "mid-timers."

5. A sponsor can help us in the process of self-examination that the Steps require.

6. A sponsor encourages us to read the basis text of our Fellowship and other program literature and to engage in Fellowship activities and service work.

7. A sponsor can monitor our progress, confront us when it is appropriate, and generally help us stay on the recovery path.

8. A sponsor reminds us to apply Twelve Step principles in our lives.

9. A sponsor models the Twelve Step program of recovery.

10. Our sponsor is available in times of crisis.

11. A sponsor provides practice in building relationships.


1.A sponsor cannot keep us in recovery.

2.A sponsor is not our therapist. The Twelve Steps are about spiritual growth, not therapy.

3.A sponsor should not attempt to control our lives or encourage an unhealthy dependence.

4.A sponsor should not take advantage of us or exploit us in any way.


1.Has what we want.

2.Lives in the solution.

3.Walks the talk

4.Has a sponsor

5.Emphasizes the Steps

6.Has more time in recovery that we do

7.Has worked more Steps than we have

8.Is available for telephone calls and meetings

9.Emphasizes the spiritual aspect of the program

10. Gender is the same as ours

It is a privilege to sponsor someone. And it's one of the ways we stay in recovery.


  1. Dear Syd,

    Wow! What a powerful post. Brought back memories of my early days in the Al-Anon fellowship, when I heard from a long-timer, "it is not necessary to LIKE your sponsor; it is more important that you RESPECT your sponsor!" It took a few meetings for me to understand that these special people were serious about their service in giving away what they had worked so hard to achieve in recovery for themselves from the effects of the disease of alcoholism by working the 12 steps and traditions and in learning how to live within these concepts to re-gain their sanity! And, that, my friend, is the secret to serenity! In short, "in order to keep it, you must give it away!"
    Love, Anonymous #1

  2. you have a wonderful gift of breaking down the "lingo" of Al-A, making it almost poetic.Thank you for this post.

  3. My first sponsor used to say "If your sponsor isn't annoying you, he or she isn't doing their job!"

    For those of us who are stubborn, and can be slow learners as a result of our intractability, it's vital to have a sponsor who will challenge us. When I came into Al-Anon, I was the sort of person who carried a massive load of resentment and self-pity. I could take umbrage at the smallest perceived slight, and would justify my own bad behaviour in service to my indignation.

    I needed a sponsor who could "read" me, and who would firmly walk me through the process to arrive at the place I didn't want to be - the place where my own choices, and my own actions, caused so much of my misery.

    For some of us, a loving but tough sponsor is a gift from God.

  4. quite a responsibility, yet priviledge, all at the same time.

  5. Dear Syd,

    I had tears of gratitude when I saw this post. THANK YOU. THANK YOU. THANK YOU.

  6. I think I need your help in my search. E-me. Coffee and talk might help me get on the right path.


Let me know what you think. I like reading what you have to say.