In the very early days of AA, a newcomer had to be “sponsored“ before she or he could even attend an AA meeting. Today this concept has changed a great deal, and we find that sponsorship means different things to different people. In S-Anon, sponsorship is a key kind of Twelfth Step work. Sponsors are program members who can help us work the Steps by sharing how they have worked or are working these Steps in their own lives. A sponsor is also a person with whom we feel comfortable enough to share our whole story and who is willing to guide us on our journey through the Twelve Steps. No one is required to have a sponsor. Our experience suggests, however, that in order to minimize confusion and frustration, it it is most helpful to rely on one person in S-anon who knows our situation well. Working the Steps with a sponsor also encourages us to maintain accountability while on our recovery journey.
Many members have found it difficult to ask for this kind of help, and even more difficult to listen to and apply any suggestions that may be offered. Once these initial obstacles are overcome, a sponsor can be a real source of strength and inspiration. Newcomers sometimes feel that they don’t want to be a bother to another member or may feel embarrassed to ask for help in understanding the principles of the program. Many members who have sponsored others are grateful for the experience and for how it has enhanced their own growth in recovery.
There is no right or wrong way to be a sponsor. Having worked through at least the first five Steps and having our own sponsor is often good preparation to be a sponsor. The usual guidelines apply: we don’t give specific advice or tell people what to do about their personal problems. One member says, “The most important thing for me to remember in sponsoring another member is that I don’t have to have all the answers. Part of me wants to rescue and fix anyone who is hurting and the other part of me knows I can’t do it! I just need to stick to sharing how the tools of the program have helped me to solve my own problems. Being a sponsor can be a wonderful learning experience for S-Anon members, because sponsorship gives us a chance to put our new principles into practice. We can also see and appreciate the growth of another member from a very special viewpoint.
Reprinted from Working the S-Anon Program, 2nd Edition, page 103-104.