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LESSON 8 – SPONSOR
Openly examine and confess my faults to myself, to God, and to someone I trust.
Happy are the pure in heart.
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.
In previous months, we talked about the importance of having a personal relationship
with Jesus Christ, which we found when we made the decision to turn our life and our will over to the care of God. Now you will see that the road to recovery is not meant to be traveled alone. You will find that you actually need three relationships. Most important is a relationship with Jesus Christ. In addition, you need the relationship of your recovery group or a church family. Last, you need the relationship of a sponsor and/or accountability partner.
Identifying a sponsor is especially important before you begin Principles 4
through 6, in which you work on getting right with God, yourself, and others.
We already talked about a moral inventory—our evaluation of our weaknesses (shortcomings) and strengths. It has been said that to attempt an inventory by yourself can be as futile as peeling an onion to find the core. When you’re finished, there is nothing left but the peelings and the tears. Principle 4 is all about getting rid of our “truth decay,” about coming clean! Proverbs 15:14 tells us:
A wise person is hungry for the truth, while a fool feeds on trash.
Are you ready to feed on the truth about your life? Well then, it’s time to take out the trash!
That trash can get pretty heavy at times, so let’s not handle it alone. We need a genuine mentor, coach, or, in recovery terms, a sponsor. Some of us may still be unconvinced that we really need this person known as a sponsor, so today we are going to answer the five following questions:
- Why do I need a sponsor?
- What are the qualities of a sponsor?
- What does a sponsor do?
- How do I find a sponsor?
- What is the difference between a sponsor and an accountability partner?
WHY DO I NEED A SPONSOR?
There are three reasons to have a sponsor:
- HAVING A SPONSOR OR ACCOUNTABILITY PARTNER IS BIBLICAL
Ecclesiastes 4:9–12 (GNB) tells us:
Two are better off than one, because together they can work more effectively. If one of them falls down, the other can help him up. But if someone is alone …, there is no one to help him…. Two men can resist an attack that would defeat one man alone.
Proverbs 27:17 tells us:
As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.
The phrase “one another” is used in the New Testament over fifty times!
- HAVING A SPONSOR OR ACCOUNTABILITY PARTNER IS A KEY PART OF YOUR RECOVERY PROGRAM
Do you know that your recovery program has four key elements to success? If your program includes each of these areas, you are well on your way to the solution, to wholeness.
The first key element is: Maintaining an Honest View of Reality as Each Step Is Worked
I have yet to see this program fail for someone who could be completely honest with himself or herself. I have, however, seen some give up on their recoveries because they could not step out of their denial into God’s truth. Having someone help to keep you honest is a real plus in successfully working the steps.
The second key element is:
Making Attendance at Recovery Group Meetings a Priority
This doesn’t include taking the summer off or not going to a meeting because it’s raining outside. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great to take a vacation, but once you get back from it, come back to your meetings. Remember, your hurts, hang-ups, and habits don’t take vacations. You need to have consistent attendance at Celebrate Recovery and other meeting nights that you attend, a priority. A sponsor can encourage you to attend your meetings.
The third element is:
Maintaining a Spiritual Program of Prayer, Meditation, and Bible Study
We are going to focus more on this in the next few lessons, but you don’t have to wait until you get there to develop your relationship with Christ. Your sponsor can pray for you and help to keep
you centered on God’s Word.
The last key element to a successful program is:
Getting Involved In Service Once you have completed Principle 8, you will be able to serve as a sponsor. Until that time, however, there are plenty of other service opportunities to get you started.
You know, service is nothing but love in work clothes, and there are plenty of opportunities to “suit up” for at Celebrate Recovery. We need help with dinner, perhaps you can prepare a meal and bring it in once a month.
Maybe you can start passing out lesson sheets.
Maybe you are a technical nerd and you can help in that area. You could welcome at the front door once a month or You can stand by the resource table and help those who need it You could help clean up after the meeting is over
If you want to get involved, all you need to do is ask someone. And your sponsor can also suggest ways for you to serve. Without exception, everyone here eventually needs a sponsor or an accountability partner.
HAVING A SPONSOR IS THE BEST GUARD AGAINST RELAPSE
By providing feedback to keep you on track, a sponsor can see your old dysfunctional,
self-defeating patterns beginning to surface and point them out to you quickly. He or she can confront you with truth and love without placing shame or guilt.
Ecclesiastes 7:5 (TLB) tells us that:
It is better to be criticized by a wise man than to be praised by a fool!
The trouble with most of us is that we would rather be ruined by praise than saved by criticism. Let me say that again: The trouble with most of us is that we would rather be ruined by praise than saved by criticism.
WHAT ARE THE QUALITIES OF A SPONSOR?
Though good advice lies deep within a counselor’s heart, the wise man will draw it out.
When you are selecting a sponsor look for the following qualities:
Does her walk match her talk? Is she living the eight principles?
I have known many people that have the 12-Step “lingo” down pat. They can quote the steps or principles and even give page number references. But their lifestyle doesn’t match their talk. Be certain that the person that you choose as a sponsor is someone whose life example is worthy of imitation.
Does she have a growing relationship with Jesus Christ?
Do you see the character of Christ developing in her?
Does she express the desire to help others on the road to recovery?
There is a difference between helping others and trying to fix others. We all need to be careful
to guard the sponsorship relationship from becoming unhealthy and codependent.
Does she show compassion, care, and hope but not pity?
You don’t need someone to feel sorry for you, but you do need someone to be sensitive to your pain.
As Pastor Rick (Warren) says, “People don’t care about how much you know until they know about how much you care!”
Here are some more qualities to look for:
Is she a good listener?
Do you sense that she honestly cares about what you have to say?
Is she strong enough to confront your denial or procrastination?
Does she care enough about you and your recovery to challenge you?
Does she offer suggestions?
Sometimes we need help in seeing options or alternatives that we are unable to find on our own. A good sponsor can take an objective view and offer suggestions. She should not give orders!
Can she share her own current struggles with others?
Is she willing to open up and be vulnerable and transparent? I don’t know about you, but I don’t want a sponsor who says that she has worked the principles. I want a sponsor who is living and working the principles every day!
WHAT IS THE ROLE OF A SPONSOR?
Let me give you six things that your sponsor can do:
- She can be there to discuss issues in detail that are too personal or would take too much time in a meeting.
This is especially true with Principle 4. You don’t share your complete inventory in a
Here are some phrases often repeated by those doing their inventory “I’m the lowest form of life on the earth”.
Others deny, rationalize, and blame:
“Okay, I admit I did such and such, but it’s not as if I killed anybody”;
“Sure, I did a, b, and c, but my spouse did d through z; compared to my spouse, I’m a saint”; “All right, I admit it, but I never would have done it if my boss wasn’t such a jerk.”
The sponsor can be there to share his or her own experiences and to offer strength and hope: “You
think you feel like a bum! Let me tell you how I felt when I did my inventory!” The sponsor’s
role is to model Christ’s grace, forgiveness, and to give a sense of perspective.
- She is available in times of crisis or potential relapse.
Your sponsor will likely tell you to “Call her before you take that first drink. You can still take it after we talk, if you decide to. But please call first!” Remember Ecclesiastes
Two men can resist an attack that would defeat one man alone.
Here are some more things a sponsor can do:
- She serves as a sounding board by providing an objective point of view.
This is especially true in Principle 6. When you are dealing with the sensitive area of making
amends and offering forgiveness, you need a good sounding board.
- She is there to encourage you to work the principles at your own speed.
It is not her job to work the principles for you! She can coach your progress, confront you when
you’re stuck, and slow you down when you’re working too fast.
- Most important, she attempts to model the lifestyle that results from working the
It’s difficult to inspire others to accomplish what you haven’t been willing to try yourself. A
good sponsor lives the principles.
- A sponsor can resign or be fired.
Sponsorship is not a lifetime position.
HOW DO I FIND A SPONSOR?
The responsibility of finding a sponsor is yours, but let me give you a few final guidelines to
help you in your search.
- First and foremost: Your sponsor MUST be of the same sex as you. NO EXCEPTIONS. I don’t think I need to expand this one.
- Can you relate to this person’s story? Does he or she meet the qualities of a good sponsor that we just covered?
- Show up early to meetings to get to know the others. Invest some time in fellowship and get to know others in your group. That’s the main reason we have these fellowship events.
- If you ask someone to sponsor you, and that person says no, do not take it as a personal rejection. Remember that their own recovery has to come first. Besides, they may already be sponsoring other people. They all sponsor others, and the responsibility of leadership is great.
If they turn you down, it’s not personal. Their plate is simply too full! If someone turns you down, ask someone else! You can even ask for a “temporary sponsor.” Remember, sponsorship is not a lifetime commitment.
- Most important, ask God to lead you to the sponsor of His choosing. He knows you and everyone in this room. He has someone in mind already for you. All you need to do is ask!
- If you can’t find a sponsor right away, simply get as many phone numbers as you can – The others in the group will be there for you until you find a sponsor
WHAT IS AN ACCOUNTABILITY PARTNER?
While the sponsor acts as a sort of recovery “coach,” an accountability partner is a recovery “teammate.” You can get with one, two, or three other people and hold each other accountable for certain areas of your recovery or issues such as meeting attendance, journaling, and so forth. These partners may be at the same or at a different level of recovery as you are.
The main goal of this relationship is to encourage one another.
You can start forming accountability groups in your small groups. When you share, just ask if anyone is interested. Let God work and see what happens.
I can guarantee this: nothing will happen if you don’t ask.
Start looking for and building your support team as soon as you can!!!