Sponsorship in 12-Step Programs


Sponsorship in 12-Step programs is one of my favorite topics to write, talk or even just think about. My current Sponsor has literally saved my life so many times I can’t count them all. Her encouragement, honesty and constant support have opened my heart in ways I didn’t think were possible.

I have had several other Sponsors before my current one, and I learned different lessons from each of them. I remember them all fondly, and I know I could call on them whenever I need to and they would be there for me in the best way they could.

So it should come as no surprise that I think everyone in 12 Step programs could benefit from having a Sponsor. Having someone that you can be completely honest with and that will be truthful with you is, in my opinion, one of the most healing experiences. It’s the experience of unconditional love!

If you haven’t found a sponsor yet, when you go to meetings listen carefully to what people say. If you go to enough meetings it’s likely you’ll start to hear people talk that you particularly relate to or like what they say. And when you’re ready, approach them and ask them to sponsor you.

I remember I was terrified to ask someone to sponsor me the first time, and even the next few Sponsors I had I was nervous to ask. But I’ve never regretted a single one, and even if the person you ask can’t sponsor you at the time, it is highly likely they will then recommend someone and help you out.

The biggest lesson I have learned lately is that when my Sponsor gives me her experience, strength, hope and guidance, my life would go a lot easier if I would actually do what she suggests. I have a tendency to nod my head yes and say “Uh-huh” without actually having any intention of doing what my Sponsor says. But I can honestly say I have never had something bad happen from taking my Sponsor’s advice. But I have had plenty of negative consequences from my own thinking and self will! I have to remind myself often that my Sponsor is older and wiser than me, and has more time in recovery than I do. My Higher Power has put her in my life to support and guide me. Letting go of my natural tendency toward rebelliousness and pride will only make my life easier.

Sponsoring other people has also changed me in a very powerful way. Sponsoring other women has brought me a deep understanding and experience of compassion, and I know as more time passes and I sponsor more and more people that will only continue to grow. Not just compassion for the other person, but for myself as well. When my Sponsees share their Fifth Step writing with me, or just problems in their lives, it completely blows my mind how I feel absolutely no judgment! It is SO freeing to be there for another human being and be a witness to all their supposed flaws but to accept them wholly.

I believe that is my Higher Power working through me, and keeping me an open channel for Love, because it’s near impossible to love if you’re being judgmental at the same time!

Another change I’ve noticed from being sponsored and sponsoring others is a much higher self-esteem. I once had a friend in the program say to me, “You get high self-esteem from doing esteem-able things.” Being honest with another person and being there free of judgment for another are two of the kindest things we can do as human beings in my opinion. Thus my confidence grows from working the Steps with others. It’s really a miracle!

About the Author