“We must be transparent to heal because God created us to be in community and relationships—not only with Him, but with one another.”—Steve Arterburn
Sponsors play a very important role in recovery. To understand and utilize a sponsor, examine the history of sponsorship and consider what to look for in a sponsor.
History of Sponsorship
The idea of being accountable to others is nothing new. The Bible is clear that accountability is a prerequisite for healing. James 5:16a (NLT) says, “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.”
Since the recovery movement began, a critical healing component has been finding a sponsor. Alcoholics Anonymous started when the founders, Bill W., a stockbroker, and Dr. Bob S, a surgeon, met in 1935 and formed support groups and the Twelve Steps based on biblical principles.
Bill W. struggled with alcohol and wanted to find someone else in a similar situation. When he met Dr. Bob S., they were two fellow strugglers who were able to help each other. At the time, there was no such thing as 12-step programs or sponsors. The only option for substance abuse treatment was going to a mental hospital.
Later, hospitals required patients struggling with alcohol to find a “sponsor” from a local A.A. program before being discharged. The sponsor would then take the person struggling with alcohol to their first meeting and be available to help them whenever needed. That is where the term “sponsor” in recovery originated from.
What to Look for in a Sponsor
There are three things to keep in mind when looking for a sponsor.
First, look for a sponsor in a Life Recovery Group. Choose a sponsor who shares a similar faith, has completed the 12 Steps, and has finished one or more years of continuous sobriety (Some experts recommend five years). Working with someone experienced in staying sober throughout various challenges has much to bring to the table.
Second, look for a trustworthy sponsor. A sponsor is there as an impartial party; they should never be in it for any other reason than to help an addict achieve sobriety. Unless there are extenuating circumstances, it is best to select a sponsor of the same gender.
Third, look for a sponsor who makes time to talk. Recovery doesn’t have a timetable. There will be times when a sponsor is needed to talk to or text in the wee hours of the night. So, pick a sponsor who is not too busy but can meet once a week or when a need arises. However, remember that a sponsor is not the same as a counselor, pastor, or friend. Still, it’s essential to choose someone who is patient and can listen when they need to.
Finding the right sponsor isn’t easy—it might even take a couple of tries to get the right person—but healing is worth it. Don’t hesitate to call 800-639-5433 to find a New Life Counselor or Coach who can help.
by Kimberlee Bousman