“What is a sponsor?” That was the question my teenage son asked me at the dinner table a few months ago. We were sharing about our day as we sometimes do when we get a chance to have a family meal together. I was telling them that I had been asked to be a sponsor by someone who didn’t live locally—not a normal type of sponsor request.
My answer to my son was not a lengthy list of the roles of a sponsor, the qualities they should have, or even the reasons why we need one in recovery. My answer came in a context that he could understand (actually I think it was my spouse who brought it up).
We referenced a television show that we often watch called, Elementary. The show is based on a modern day version of Sherlock Holmes, a recovering drug addict, who lives in New York City (although formerly from England). The show includes intermittent references to his struggle, his recovery meetings, and his sponsor. With that reference to the TV show, my son totally understood what I was talking about.
Here’s a video clip from the show where Sherlock is asked for the first time to be a sponsor.
So what is a sponsor? In non-recovery terms, it is like a coach (maybe a life or business coach), or a mentor. It is someone that is chosen by the sponsee to help them on their road to recovery. In Celebrate Recovery (CR) specifically, it is someone who has worked through the eight principles and 12 steps, has a history of sobriety (as defined by the type of struggle they identify with), and models living their life by the recovery principles.
They have a recovery and Christian walk that matches their talk.
There is a lot of teaching about the importance of having a sponsor, too much to go into on a short post. For more information, review this CR Sponsor Bulletin. What is relevant is accepting our frailties and our need for connection as we begin to let God work in us and to change our behaviors.
We are not meant to journey on our road to recovery alone. Having a sponsor is one of three important relationships we need to complete a successful CR 12-step program. The other two are a relationship with Jesus Christ and one with your recovery group or church.
Since we will eventually share our moral inventory (Step 4) with our sponsor (Step 5), selecting one is not something to take lightly. Praying about whom to ask to sponsor you goes a long way in finding the right person at the right time.
That brings me back to the request I received to sponsor someone from out of state. With technology as it is these days, being a ‘virtual’ sponsor may be something that is becoming more common. There wasn’t an urgency to make a quick decision, so we decided to pray about whether it would be a good match for us to enter into the sponsor/sponsee relationship. The next time we talked, sure enough, God had steered us both in other directions.
God has a plan, sometimes we just need to ask Him to show us.
So don’t give up looking for a sponsor or others to journey on your road to recovery. That person may just be a prayer or a phone call away.
Contributed by a leader at Celebrate Recovery on the Plateau.