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Twelve Qualities of Sponsorship/WHAT IS A SPONSOR?/Sponsorship Vs Friendship /TAKING THE STEPS BY THE BOOK

Twelve Qualities of Sponsorship

This was written by a woman in recovery who prefers to remain anonymous.

Well worth reading and is a good agreement between a sponsor and a sponsee.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Twelve Qualities of Sponsorship

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


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.


 SPONSOR – “One who assumes, or one to whom is delegated, responsibility for some other person.” or –

                    “One who at the baptism of an infant professes the Christian faith in its name, and guarantees its religious {spiritual} education.”

                   (“We were reborn.”  AA, pg. 63)

Webster, circa – 1936

 Step Twelve reads, “Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.”

 That, of course, is what a Sponsor is.  An alcoholic who has taken these Steps and had a spiritual awakening or spiritual experience or an entire psychic change.  That is described on pages 83 and 84 in our Basic Text, Alcoholics Anonymous.

 Let’s see what that Book has to say about a Sponsor (a recovered alcoholic):

  “But the ex-problem drinker who has found this solution, who is properly armed      with facts about himself, can generally win the confidence of another alcoholic in     a few hours. Until such an understanding is reached, little or nothing can be accomplished.”  (Pg. 18)

 How does he do that?  Well, the effective sponsor has studied Chapter Seven, “Working With Others”. 

 1. His first job then is to see if the prospect appears to be willing to go to any length to achieve victory over alcohol, (AA, pg. 90). 

 2.       His second job is to see if he has a REAL ALCOHOLIC to work with, (AA, pg. 92).  If he is not, try to help them find the fellowship that deals with their problem.

 3. His third job is to give the prospect a killer case of alcoholism so he will feel totally hopeless and helpless,
(AA, pg. 92). 

4. Then, his fourth job is to give the prospect hope, (AA, pg. 93).


5.His fifth job is to see if the prospect is, in fact, willing to go to any length (AA, pg. 94 – 96) to achieve victory over alcohol. (That is to see they have a copy of the Big Book and are willing to carefully read it to determine if they are willing to adopt the Program as a way of life)

 6.If he is, then his sixth job is to start the protégé on his journey to sobriety by taking Steps Three, Four and Five, (AA, pg. 96).


7.His seventh job is to walk with his protégé in putting the remaining Steps to work until he is solid in living our Program, one day at a time (AA, pg. 96 – 103).

 8.Once the protégé has found a newcomer and has effectively passed this on to another suffering alcoholic, you will have done your job and know joy of living, which is giving that others may live.  (AA, pg. 163 – 164)

 9.Continue to look for the next prospect.Is Sponsorship important?  Let’s see what the Big Book reports.

 “For if an alcoholic failed to perfect and enlarge his spiritual life through work and self-sacrifice for others, he could not survive the certain trials and low spots ahead”,
(AA, pg. 14 & 15).

 “Our very lives, as ex-problem drinkers, depend upon our constant thought of others and how we may help meet their needs.”  (AA, pg. 20)

 “Practical experience shows nothing will so much insure immunity from drinking as intensive work with other alcoholics.  It works when other activities fail.”  (AA, pg. 89)

 And as Dr. Bob reported: 

“I spend a great deal of time passing on what I learned to others who want and need it badly.  I do it for four reasons:

1.Sense of duty.        

2.It is a pleasure.

3. Because in doing so I am paying my debt to the man who          took time to pass it on to me.

 4.Because every time I do it I take out a little more insurance for myself against a possible slip.”
(AA, pg. 180 – 181)

 Dr. Bob did take the matter of Sponsorship very seriously.  History shows that he helped approximately 5,000 alcoholics experience the Promises of the Program of Alcoholics Anonymous over a 10 year period.  That turns out to average 1 1/2 new alcoholics every day over that 10 year period.  That would certainly qualify as “intensive” work with other alcoholics.

 So, it would appear to make sense, if we have been restored to sanity where alcohol is concerned, to follow the directions the 1st 100 laid down for us in our Basic Text, “ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS” and apply the Twelfth Step Prayer as directed, which is:

 “Ask Him in you morning meditation what you can do each day for the man who is still sick.  The answers will come, IF your own house is in order.  But you obviously cannot transmit something you haven’t got.  See to it that your relationship with Him is right and great events will come to pass for you and countless others.  This is the Great Fact for us.”  (AA, pg. 164)

 The Program of Alcoholics Anonymous works if we work it!  We die if we don’t!!

So WORK it!!!

(But that is only a suggestion)

 We recover by the Steps we take, not the meetings we make!
Sponsorship Vs Friendship – The difference between having a friend and having a sponsor

A friend will help you cipher through your unique special qualities and sensitivities by the process of general non-observable explanations to specific observable actions, consequences, or conclusions and the scientific methods of personal deductive reasoning to determine the specific observations, or other data that will support feeling hypothesis.

Whereas a Sponsor will just tell you, “You’re not unique, you’re screwed – SURRENDER and help a newcomer!”

I need a sponsor NOT a friend! A friend will not and is not obligated to tell me the truth even if it hurts my feelings. A sponsor cares more about what I’m doing than how I’m feeling (a friend is exactly the opposite) I hold my sponsor in the highest esteem and surrender my ego’s ceaseless chattering to my sponsor’s direction. If anyone has a sponsor they do not feel this way about, believe me, they are missing out of the greatest benefits of our program. There is an art form that a good sponsor will have perfected by which he can be very firm and abrupt with a guy but you never doubt that he loves you and is on your side. A good sponsor comforts you when you’re afflicted and afflicts you when you’re comfortable. 

“In all work with a newcomer, the sponsor underscores the fact that it is the A.A. recovery program – not the sponsor’s personality or position – that is important. Thus, the newcomer learns to lean on the program, not on the sponsor.”– Alcoholics Anonymous, Questions and Answers on Sponsorship –

“Certainly we need leaders, but we must regard them as the human agents of the Higher Power and not with undue adulation as individuals. The Fourth and Tenth Steps cannot be too strongly emphasized here. There is your perfect antidote for halo-poisoning.”
— Dr. Bob, AA Grapevine 20th Anniversary Edition

Chuck S. Sponsorship


The contents of this booklet are taken directly for the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous. This booklet is intended for sponsorship use, to help the sponsor take someone through the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. It is absolutely not intended as a guide to take the steps on your own.

First ask these questions:

Do you want to be done for good and for all? (Dr. Bob’s Nightmare page 181 last paragraph- “If you think you are an atheist, and agnostic, a skeptic or have any other form of intellectual pride which keeps you from accepting what is in this book, I feel sorry for you. If you still think you are strong enough to beat the game alone, that is your affair. But if you really and truly want to quit drinking liquor for good and all, and sincerely feel that you must have some help, we know that we have an answer for you. It never fails, if you go about it with one-half the zeal you have been in the habit of showing when you were getting another drink. Your Heavenly Father will never let you down!”)

Are you willing too go to any lengths for victory over alcohol?

If they cannot answer these two questions in the affirmative then stop. Tell them when they arrive at that point to call you.

START READING- with the spine of the book!!  Then the front cover, the blank pages, then the page III (Roman numeral 3). The first promise in the book is on this page:


Underline and highlight this sentence. Have them continue to read through page 25 about ½ through the page to the * then note at the bottom- read page 567-568. Then go back to page 25, take up where you left off and read to 27 where you will come to an * note at the bottom of the page- read page 567-568. After reading 567-568 continue reading 27-47 where you will come to a third *, again note at the bottom of the page- read 567-568. After reading the Spiritual Experience for the third time continue reading on 47 through 57. Write “Call Me” at the end of 7. Have them underline, highlight, and write down anything they want to discuss. If they don’t call you, your done- they are not serious- they are not willing to take the necessary steps to stay sober. Don’t call them. Let them call you. It should not take them more than two days. Now they have called. Go over questions they have regarding the first 57 pages. Don’t go in depth on anything past the first step. 


1ST Step- Page 30 “We learned that we had to fully concede to our inner most selves that we were alcoholics. This is the first step of recovery. Page 33 “If we are planning to stop drinking, there must be no reservation of any kind, nor any lurking notion that someday we will be immune to alcohol.”

1st Step- second half- page 52- “We had to ask ourselves why we shouldn’t apply to our human problems the same readiness to change our point of view. We were having trouble with personal relationships, we couldn’t control our emotional natures, we were a prey to misery and depression, we couldn’t make a living, we had a feeling of uselessness, we were full of fear, we were unhappy, we couldn’t seem to be of real help to other people- was not a basic solution of these bedevilments more important than whether we should see newsreels of lunar flight? Of course it was.”

“When we saw others solve their problems by a simple reliance upon the Spirit of the Universe, we had to stop doubting the power of God. Our ideas did not work. But the God idea did.”


2ND Step- page 47 “We needed to ask ourselves but one short question. “Do I now believe, or am I even willing to believe, that there is a Power greater than myself?”

If they can’t say yes- you’re done.

If they say yes- continue “As soon as a man can say that he does believe, or is willing to believe, we emphatically assure him that he is on his way!”—Congratulate them!

Have them read pages 58-63 to “We were reborn.” There write 

“call me”. If they don’t call you’re done.

If they call- great! Go over everything they read and answer any questions. When you get to page 63 ask them if they are ready for their third step decision. Are you ready to do the deal? The third step decision is an outward commitment to go on with the program. Suggested to do this on your knees, took them dead in the eyes, the sponsor and sponsee together recite:

“God, I offer myself to Thee- to build with me and to do with me as Thou wilt. Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do Thy will. Take away my difficulties, that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Thy Power, Thy Love, and Thy Way of Life. May I do Thy will always.”

Steps 4-5-6-7-8-9 are the ACTION taken on the 3rd step decision.


NEXT- 4th Step- Have them  read out loud to you pages 63-64. They are going to start making their “grudge list”. 

  Resentful at_______The Cause_______Affects my (fear)_____My Part

Start with today, last week, last month, and last year. Sit down and do this all at once. Write it like you are the only human that will ever see it. Fill out all your resentments first (first column), the cause (second column), then affects (third column).

4th Column- Page 67 tells you to add the fourth column. Have them read this out loud. Label this column “My Part”. (Where I was selfish, dishonest, self-seeking, where I was frightened, where I was to blame). Fill this column out last. 

Fears list. Read bottom of 67-68 out loud. Two columns.

What I’m Afraid Of_____Why I Have This Fear

Sex Inventory. Read Page 68-71 out loud. Three columns.

Who I Hurt___Where I Was At Fault___What I Should Have Done Instead

Then send them off to do this with the instructions to call when it is complete. Instruct them to sit down and do this in one sitting. This should not take more than one sitting. Call me when complete. If they don’t call you’re done.


When they have called- do 5th step with them. They have told everything to you. (Page 75) Tell them the book says “…now we begin to have a spiritual experience.” Show them the 12 things to do after the 5th step. (Page 75)

Return home.

Find a place where we can be quiet for an hour.

Carefully reviewing what we have done.

Thank God from the bottom of our heart that we know Him better.

Taking this book (Alcoholics Anonymous) down from our shelf.

Turn to the page which contains the twelve steps (page 59-60)

Carefully reading the first five proposals.

We ask if we have omitted anything, for we are building an arch through which we shall walk a free man at ask.

Is our work sold so far?

Are the stones properly in place?

Have we skimped on the cement put into the foundation?

Have we tried to make mortar without sand?

Turn to page 59 and read the 6th step.

Page 76 “If we can answer to our satisfaction, we then look at Step Six”

Turn to page 59 and read the 6th step again.


Turn back to page 76 top and continue with 6th step

Are we now ready to let God remove from us the things which we have admitted are objectionable? Can He now take them all- Every one? If we still cling to something we will not let go, we ask God to help us be willing.

WHEN READY, ( and only when ready) we take the 7th step.


“My Creator, I am now will that You should have all of me, good and bad. I pray that You now remove from me every single defect of my character which stands in the way of my usefulness to You and my fellows. Grant me strength, as I go out from here, to do Your bidding. Amen”.

The 7th step is complete!


Simply take your 4th step inventory, make a list and become willing to make amends. Start with the one you feel will be the most difficult.

Read 76-83 Point out to them especially page 83, bottom paragraph, “If we are painstaking about this phase of our development, we will be amazed before we are half way through.


At this point remind them they said they would go to any lengths for victory over alcohol! Have them write down the “what, “when”, and “where” beside the “who” they did in step 8. (Who they harmed, what kind of amends- financial or emotional, and action to be taken.) Go over this with them before they make any amends. Don’t over do this step but make sure they cover what needs to be covered. 

Read page 83-84 – the promises and step 10


This is our new mistakes. We have cleaned up our past. If past mistakes that we forgot on our 4th & 5th step come up use the 10th step to clear them up also. Page 84 “Continue to watch for selfishness, dishonest, resentment, and fear. We discuss them with someone immediately and make amends quickly if we have harmed anyone. Then we resolutely turn our thoughts to someone we can help. Love and tolerance of others is our code.” This is not connected to step 11. Make sure they understand that.

BEWARE! Page 85 “It is easy ato let up on the spiritual program of action and rest on our laurels. We are headed for trouble if we do, for alcohol is a subtle foe. We are not cured of alcoholism. What we really have is a daily reprieve contingent on the maintenance of our spiritual condition. Every day is a day when we must carry the vision of God’s will into all of our activities. “How can I best serve Thee- Thy will (not mine) be done.” These are thoughts which must go with us constantly…If we have carefully followed directions, we have begun to sense the flow of His Spirit into us…But we must go further and that means more action.”


1st half of step 11- page 86 1st full paragraph ‘When we retire at night, we constructively review our day. Were we resentful, selfish, dishonest or afraid? Do we owe and apology? Have we kept something to ourselves which should be discussed with another person at once. Were we kind and loving toward all? What could we have done better?

Were we thinking of ourselves most of the time? Or were we thinking of what we could do for others or what we could pack into the stream of life? But we must be careful not to drift into worry, remorse or morbid reflection, for that would diminish our usefulness to others. After making our review we ask God’s forgiveness and inquire what corrective measures should be taken?

2nd half of this step page 86 “On awakening let us think about the twenty-four hours ahead. We consider our plans for the day. Before we begin, we ask God to direct our thinking, especially asking that it be divorced from self-pity, dishonest or self-seeking motives. Under these conditions we can employ our mental faculties with assurance for after all, God gave us brains to use. Our thought-life will be placed on a much higher plan when our thinking is cleared of wrong motives.” Continue to read through page 88.


12th step- Go get a sponsee as soon as possible. Take them through the steps.

Suggestions  & miscellaneous notes

TAKE the steps not WORK the steps

Only one sponsee at a time, give them all the time they need

It should not take much over a week if they are serious—That Ain’t In The Book

Alcoholic to Alcoholic, Drug addict to Drug addict

“Strenuous work, one alcoholic with another, was vital to permanent recovery.” (Page XVII)

Pages that the word RECOVERED are mentioned in the book

III- “The Story of How Many Thousands of Men and Women Have Recovered From Alcoholism”

XIII- “We of Alcoholics Anonymous” are more than one hundred men and women who have recovered from a seemingly hopeless state of mind and body. To show other alcoholics precisely how we have recovered is the main purpose of this book.”

XV- “Sixteen years have elapsed between our first printing of this book and the presentation in 1995 of our second edition. In that brief space, Alcoholics Anonymous has mushroomed into nearly 6,000 groups whose membership is far above 150,000 recovered alcoholics.”

XVII- “This seemed to prove that one alcoholic could affect another as no nonalcoholic could. It also indicated that strenuous work, one alcoholic with another, was vital to permanent recovery.”

XXIII- “As the message of recovery has reached larger numbers of people, it has also touched the lives of a vastly greater variety of suffering alcoholics.”

17- “We, of ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS, know thousands of men and women who were once just as hopeless as Bill. Nearly all have recovered. They have solved the drink problem.”

20- “Doubtless you are curious to discover how and why, in the face of expert opinion to the contrary, we have recovered from a hopeless condition of mind and body.”

29- “Clear-cut directions are given showing how we recovered.”

44- “If a mere code of morals or a better philosophy of life were sufficient to overcome alcoholism, many of us would have recovered long ago.

90- “Let his family or a friend ask him if he wants to quit for good and if would go to any extreme to do so. If he says yes, then his attention should be drawn to a person who has recovered. You should be described to him as one of a fellowship who, as part of their own recovery, tries to help others and who will be glad to talk to him if he cares to see you.”

96- “We find it a waste of time to keep chasing a man, who cannot or will not work with you. If you leave such a person alone, he may soon become convinced that he cannot recover by himself.’

113- “He knows that thousands of men, much like himself, have recovered.

132- “We have recovered, and have been given the power to help others.”

133- “Now about health: A body badly burned by alcohol does not often recover overnight nor do twisted thinking and depression vanish in a twinkling. We are convinced that a spiritual mode of living is a most powerful health restorative. We, who have recovered from serious drinking, are miracles of mental health.”

146-“An alcoholic who has recovered, but holds a relatively unimportant job, can talk to a man with a better position.”

165- PERSONAL STORIES—“How Forty-Two Alcoholics Recovered From Their Malady”


In all work with a newcomer, the sponsor underscores the fact that it is the A.A. recovery program, not the sponsor’s personality or position that is important.  Thus the newcomer learns to lean on the program, not on the sponsor.  A sponsor who has truly been putting the program first will not take it as a personal insult if the newcomer decides to change sponsors or go to other A.A.s for additional guidance.
— Alcoholics Anonymous, Questions & Answers on Sponsorship

Ron Richey
545 Queen St. # 701
Honolulu, Hi 96813

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