Sponsorship in Alcoholics Anonymous

Over the years sponsorship has evolved into an important part of Alcoholics Anonymous.  Sponsorship can be defined as one alcoholic who has made some progress in recovery and/or performance in service, sharing this experience with another alcoholic who is just starting the journey.  The need to help one another is as important today as it was when AA began in 1935.


Sponsorship is woven intricately through our three legacies and impacts groups and our service structures as much as it does individual members.  The pamphlet ‘The AA Group’ includes a group inventory that asks us to review the following questions: Do we emphasize the importance of sponsorship?  How effectively?  How can we do it better?  The future of AA depends on how we, as individuals and groups, respond to these questions.


In ‘Language of the Heart’ Bill W. wrote, “Every sponsor is necessarily a leader.  The stakes are huge, a human life, and usually the happiness of a whole family, hangs in the balance.  What the sponsor does and says, how well he estimates the reaction of his prospects, how well he times and makes his presentation, how well he handles criticism, and how well he leads his prospect on by personal spiritual example – well, these attributes can make all the difference, often the difference between life and death.”


The pamphlet, ‘Questions and Answers on Sponsorship’ says active sponsorship programs within a group remind all members of the group’s primary purpose.  They serve to unite a group, keep it mindful of “first things first”.  This pamphlet also includes several procedures a group can set up to help sponsor new members.


The basis of all sponsorship is to lead by example.  Individuals and groups cannot afford to lose sight of the importance of sponsorship, the importance of taking a special interest in a confused alcoholic who wants to stop drinking.  Experience shows clearly that the members getting the most out of the AA program, and the groups doing the best job of carrying the AA message to the still suffering alcoholics, are those for whom sponsorship is too important to be left to chance.


By these members and groups, sponsorship responsibilities are welcomed and accepted as opportunities to enrich personal and group experience and to deepen the satisfactions that come from working with others.
Submitted by Mike M., Columbus, OH
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