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by Bill M.

Being asked for the first time to be a sponsor created a confusing swirl of emotion for me. My ego said, “Well, it’s about time somebody asked me!” And then my false pride said, “You’re only a year sober, who are you to think you have what it takes to do this right?” Having recently worked through the Twelfth Step with my sponsor, David, I was somewhat prepared for the request, but not for the impact. My old fears of not being good enough and being seen as a fraud were loud.

David had suggested that if I was ever asked to be a sponsor, I should not immediately say “yes” or “no”, but rather should set a quick meeting to discuss what the potential sponsee expects from a sponsor, to talk about some basic ground rules of sponsorship and then mutually determine if there is a fit. David had also told me I should ask the potential sponsee to read “The Doctor’s Opinion” in the Big Book before meeting as a test of willingness. The newcomer agreed, which gave me the chance to call David, talk about my fears and ego and get some guidance.

My sponsor reminded me that in the earliest days of Alcoholics Anonymous, members with days or weeks sober would seek out drunks to carry the message and share what sobriety they had. There was no room for ego; it was about bringing people into the program where they had a chance at regaining life. There were only the experience-based principles that the foundation of the program is one alcoholic working with another, and that doing so is the best defense against that first drink. Whatever I had as a basis for sobriety and our program is what I would share “for fun and for free” as Chuck C. has said.

David offered a great practical tip before my meeting with the potential sponsee: Read together “How it Works” from Chapter 5 of the Big Book with a focus on “If you have decided you want what we have and are willing to go to any length to get it…” I was to ask the question, “Are you willing to go to any length for sobriety?” I have put that question to every person who has asked me to sponsor them and, of course, all have answered “Yes.” Only a few have lived it, but it is a great question to set the stage for working the steps.

The man who became my first sponsee has called me “sponsor” for 18 years now, a gift unimaginable for me at one year sober. We have been through what life has tossed at us individually, and embraced sobriety one day at a time thanks to the principles of A. A. We share a love of this program and an abiding faith that it works, that life feels so good when it’s one alcoholic working with another. Is there a better reason to say “Yes” to sponsorship?

Bill M.’s Home Group is BYOBook, 9 am, Saturdays, at Faith Lutheran Church in Castro Valley. Hybrid Meeting – Zoom Code is 871-0897-4652. Passcode is 110619.