The Best Sponsor in the World
There’s an old saying, I’m not sure where I heard it, that I love. It goes a little something like – if you don’t think your sponsor is the best in the world, you picked the wrong person.
How perfect is that? I abundantly agree that, as recovering addicts and alcoholics, there’s little that’s more valuable to early-sobriety than a great sponsor. They’re a source of strength, a lighthouse if you will, in an otherwise turbulent time.
What exactly makes someone a good sponsor though? More to the point, how do you pick the right one? These are the million-dollar questions. Fortunately, we at Lighthouse are here to help!
I’m personally in recovery and, without breaking anyone’s anonymity, I can attest that a large portion of our staff are too. So, we sat down and complied a handy guide on how to identify an effective sponsor.
Remember, though, the following is just our experience. Everyone’s recovery is different. So take what we say with just one grain of salt. While these tips are generally true, specific cases may call for a different type of sponsor. Read on and good luck! Remember, we can all change!
They’ll Take You Through the Steps
This is hands down the most important factor to consider when looking for a sponsor. Will they take you through all twelve of the steps? If the answer is no, look elsewhere. It’s that simple.
Remember, a sponsor’s primary job, some argue their only job, is to take newcomers through the steps and facilitate a spiritual awakening. A sponsor isn’t a therapist, a doctor, a relationship coach, or a life advisor. Well, okay, they are kind of life advisors, but not the rest.
Sometimes, often even, a sponsor will take on those roles. That’s fine. Their most important role though is to get you through the steps. Period.
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They Have Something You Want
This advice you’ll hear thrown around at meetings all the time. There’s a good reason for that – it’s absolutely true! When looking for a sponsor, you should pick someone who has the qualities you want.
It’s important that these are emotional, spiritual, and mental qualities though. I’m not talking about picking a sponsor because they have the car that you want. I’m not talking about picking a sponsor because they have lots of money or a hot significant other.
None of that stuff matters! I’m talking about picking a sponsor because they have a smile on their face, a light in their eyes, and a productive and happy life.
They’re Happy & Successful
Speaking of a productive and happy life, you should weigh any potential sponsor’s happiness and success.
Happiness is easy enough to quantify. Are they smiling? Are they actively reaching out to others? Do they joke around and laugh often, but remain serious when the situation calls for it? If so, they’re happy.
Success gets a bit trickier. Just like above, I’m not talking about financial or romantic success. I’m talking about inner success or, if you prefer, inner peace. Does your potential sponsor walk through life with God by their side? Do they have serenity, patience, tolerance, and love for others? Are they a living example of the twelve-steps?
If you can answer yes to the above questions, then pick that sponsor! These are signs of inner success and inner peace.
Their Actions Match Their Words
This is an often overlooked factor when considering sponsors. Anyone can talk a good game. In fact, alcoholics and addicts are some of the best smooth talkers around! So, when looking for a sponsor it’s important to see if someone’s actions match their words.
To put it another way, do they talk about helping newcomers in a meeting, but then leave without talking to any newcomers? Do they preach the importance of prayer and meditation, but refrain from it themselves? If so, pick another sponsor.
On the other hand, if they stress the importance of sponsorship in their message and then spend an hour after the meeting talking to newcomers, well, then you know you’re looking at the real deal.
They Have Significant Sober Time
This isn’t always the case, but often the longer sober someone has, the more spiritual attune they are. Think about it like this, the longer someone stays sober, the narrower the road of acceptable behavior gets. Backpacking on the above point, this means they’ll be less likely to say one thing and do another.
Still, sober time doesn’t always correlate to serenity and happiness. Have you ever met someone with twenty years who’s miserable? Well let me assure you, they exist! Plus, remember that Bill sponsored Dr. Bob when he had six months.
So, while time is important to consider when looking for a sponsor, it’s not the deciding factor. Have you found someone who will take you through the steps, is happy and successful, has something you want, and has a consistence between their words and actions? Then it doesn’t matter if they only have six months – ask them to sponsor you right now!