Celebrate Recovery

Celebrate Recovery: Lesson 7- Sponsor

Principle 4: Openly examine and confess my faults to myself, to God, and to someone I trust.

Happy are the pure in heart. -Matthew 5:8


Step 4: We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the Lord. -Lamentations 3:40

What is a sponsor? 

A sponsor is a trusted individual who is able and willing to provide a safe outlet as you process through your thoughts and feelings as you work the steps of recovery. This person should have successfully completed the 12 steps and should be someone that you respect as an individual, and who respects your efforts in recovery. Most importantly, this person should be a follower of Jesus Christ and their life should show evidence of their love and commitment to Him.

What is the role of a sponsor?

  • A sponsor should be available to discuss issues with you as they arise.
  • A sponsor should be aware of the time commitment that this role requires.
  • A sponsor should be available in times of crisis or potential relapse.
  • A sponsor should have the ability to be objective and nonjudgmental.
  • A sponsor should model behaviors and a lifestyle that results from living a life for Christ.
  • A sponsor should be trustworthy.
What is NOT the role of a sponsor?
  • A sponsor is NOT your mother/father.
  • A sponsor is NOT going to do the work for you.
  • A sponsor is NOT your babysitter. You are responsible for your own actions.
  • A sponsor is NOT perfect. He/she will make mistakes.
Why do I need a sponsor?
Telling someone your deepest secrets and struggles can be intimidating. However, the rewards of a sponsor greatly outweigh the risks. Remember, Celebrate Recovery is a safe place, and we all have our own stuff that we need to work on. Celebrate Recovery is not a place of judgement, but a place of encouragement and healing.

Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. -Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

Having an objective view of our lives can be invaluable. A sponsor can provide this type of objective insight that we may not be able to see on our own. Behavior or thought patterns, denial, and destructive thought processes are all things that are hard to see in oneself without the assistance of another person. A sponsor can provide this bird’s eye view that we just cannot obtain on our own.

The most valuable thing a sponsor provides is unconditional love within the relationship. Many of us in Celebrate Recovery have been hurt, used, or abused. Having a sponsor provides a safe, consistent relationship that we don’t have to constantly question. The following quote is one that my sponsor texted me as I was getting ready to do my moral inventory with her, and it had a great impact on me.

We love those who know the worst of us and don’t turn their faces away. -Walker Percy

What qualities should I look for in a sponsor?

  • Does his/her walk match his/her talk? Are they living the eight principles?
  • Does he/she demonstrate a growing relationship with Jesus Christ?
  • Does he/she express a desire to help others in recovery?
  • Does he/she demonstrate compassion, care, and hope?
  • Is he/she a good listener?
  • Is he/she strong enough to confront your denial or procrastination?
  • Does he/she speak the truth in love?
  • Does he/she offer suggestions yet leave room for individuals to make their own choices?
  • Can he/she share their own struggles with others?
  • Is he/she trustworthy? Can you be honest with this person?
  • Has he/she gone through the program?
  • Has he/she had similar life experiences?
  • Is he/she capable of handling the issues you will be bringing to the surface?
  • Is this person someone I could benefit from being around/learning from?
  • Is this person of the same sex? (Strongly recommended by CR)
How do I find a sponsor?
  • Start within your CR program. Is there someone there that you feel meet the above qualities?
  • Look for similarities between yourself and a potential sponsor.
  • Can you relate to this person’s story? Can they relate to yours?
  • Ask a potential sponsor out for coffee, or have some conversations with them to see how things click between you before you take things further.
  • Spend time in prayer regarding a sponsor.
Asking someone to sponsor you.
If you’ve found someone who meets the qualities you are looking for and who you think would be a good fit for your personality, it’s time to pop the question. It can feel very vulnerable asking someone to be your sponsor, but it’s important to try and not take it personally if they say no. Keep in mind that being a sponsor demands a lot of time and energy, and it is much better for someone to be upfront and honest and say no from the beginning than to say yes and not be able to invest the time and effort into you and your recovery process.
When you ask someone to be your sponsor, it is best to have a conversation about roles and expectations. What do you expect from a sponsor? What does the potential sponsor expect from you? Some good things to clarify are: how often will you meet, where will you meet, how much time they are willing to commit, what length of time are they willing to commit, what happens if either of you feel the relationship isn’t working out, what kind of accountability is expected, etc.
If you ask someone to sponsor you who has been through the program, they will know a bit more about what the program is like and what they can expect and will expect from the relationship. Don’t be afraid to ask questions!
Don’t expect an answer on the spot. Allow your potential sponsor the space and time to consider the commitment. Remember, sponsoring consumes time and energy, and an honest answer up front can save a lot of awkwardness later.

If you’ve been asked to sponsor. 
If you’ve been asked to sponsor someone, don’t be afraid to take some time to consider the commitment. If you don’t know the person well, invite them for coffee or conversation before you give them an answer. Some things to consider are: their faith and commitment to Christ, their background and struggles, and their motivation and willingness to do the work.
If you’re inclined to say yes, that’s great! Don’t forget to set some boundaries expectations for the relationship. This could include any of the following:
  • Sponsee’s commitment to attending meetings, completing all 12 steps, transparency, and confidentiality
  • Expectations for regular meetings and predetermined protocol for emergencies
  • Clear statement of what you are and are not willing/ready to do or commit

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