When is a Good Time to Call Your Sponsor
“Tell me, and I forget, teach me, and I may remember, involve me, and I learn.”
– Benjamin Franklin
In the fifteen years of being a newcomer who never acquired more than sixty days or so of sobriety, I had sponsors here and there. I was told to find someone who had what I want. So naturally, in newcomer fashion, I choose the guy with the best looking girlfriend or the nicest car. I’m not sure that’s what they meant. The primary job of a sponsor is to bring a newcomer through the steps. All else is secondary. Typically, we are looking for someone who has been there and found a real answer as the big book suggest. That person should have no agenda other than to pay it forward. Let’s look at some different types of sponsorship styles before answer when to call.
Sponsor by name only:
This is the sponsor that may be the popular guy to be sponsored by. Maybe he is an excellent speaker or known for certain leadership traits. The sponsee often picks this guy but never actually uses him as a sponsor. There may be some initial conversations about life, but they don’t transition to real step work. His name may be dropped when asked “Do you have a sponsor?” but, the sponsee is sponsoring himself.
This sponsor is the call me every day at this time guy. It’s passed off as a form of “checking for willingness” but has little to do with sponsorship. Often these people give the sponsee instructions on what to do in their lives as opposed to bringing them through the steps to then build a relationship with the One who has all answers. It causes sponsor dependence and is often ego based.
Sponsor to Report to:
In this type of relationship, there is actual step work going on. The process of the steps is completed, and growth and change both happen. The step work is applied to substances, but the sponsee holds back others parts of self. Issues like romance and finance are still being run by elements of self-will. What happens in this relationship is the sponsee makes their own decisions on the parts of their life that they don’t share and usually it works out poorly. More often than not they only call the sponsor when the pain is great enough. The longer they wait, the heavier the phone. The mind fills up with the thoughts of the giant backstory that hasn’t been told. When they finally pick up the phone, they are driven back to the steps to now apply the same process that worked on drugs to the part of the life they haven’t surrendered.
Sponsor by Relationship
This is the highest form of sponsor-sponsee relationship. In this relationship, there is complete transparency, trust, and vulnerability. One of the main components is staying current on the happenings of everyday life. Whether it’s through consistent phone talks or weekly coffee all of the essential aspects of life are being shared. This is not done so the sponsor can tell the sponsee what they should do, although suggestions may be given. The real value is in filtering our lives through the process of inventory, prayer, meditation, and contemplation. As the book talks about in the chapter on working with others the walk side by side.
WHY not When
So, it turns out the question isn’t when to call, its why. Initially the calling of a sponsor and meeting with leads to the steps and telling your life story. Topics of conversation should include everything from family, friends, romantic interests and employment. These are the areas of life that poor decisions often cost us the most. If the conversations involve spiritual mentorship and the disease is one of perception where would poor understanding not need to be corrected. Usually, good sponsorship doesn’t even require the sponsor give answers. Sometimes its best to ask more relevant questions.