A sponsor is a qualified member of a Twelve Step fellowship who has been spiritually awakened as the result of working the Twelve Steps and shows another how to live by these principles such that it brings about a spiritual awakening in the person being sponsored. This statement begs several other questions which we shall try to answer.
To be a qualified member of a Twelve Step fellowship, we had to fit our behaviors to the disease model described in the “Doctor's Opinion” plus Chapters 2 & 3 of the Big Book of A.A. (Reference “What is sex addiction”) It is Step One: Admitted we were powerless over our addictive sexual behavior – that our lives had become unmanageable. Powerlessness means a tendency to go on sprees or a loss of control once the behavior(s) is(are) started. Unmanageability is the loss of the power of choice to abstain completely. Unmanageability is precipitated by the desire to abstain completely. We must know that our potential sponsor once had the same problem with which we were struggling. We cannot recover from one disease by using a method that worked for a completely different disease. Someone who has never had sex addiction cannot show us how to work this program in order to recovery from sex addiction. They wouldn't know how tough we had to be on ourselves, how thorough in the work we had to be.
A spiritual awakening has several indicators. First and foremost of these is removal of our obsession. We are no longer preoccupied with acting out, neither are we obsessed with managing our lives so that we won't be tempted. More than this, we are happy in our abstinence. We feel as though our lives have been given a great purpose. We feel useful again. We have experienced an inner peace. It sticks with us even in the midst of the trials and tragedies that life inevitably brings. But above everything, we are continually seeking spiritual growth by improving upon our practice of principles contained in the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions.
A sponsor is only qualified to show others how to work the Steps, the way he or she worked the Steps such that it brought about a spiritual awakening within him or her. We cannot teach someone to travel a road we've never traveled ourselves. We teach only the Big Book approach, because it is what worked for us. We are not saying other approaches do not work. We are simply saying that we are not qualified to teach them since we either have no experience with such approaches or we did not find a spiritual awakening using those other approaches. We are only qualified to teach out of our own successful experience. Since we view sex addiction as potentially deadly, to do otherwise would be gambling with the lives of those we sponsor. We try to avoid the arrogance of thinking we can be all things to all people.
Another indicator to a spiritual awakening is abstinence. We suggest a thorough reading of our article on defining abstinence if you are unsure what is meant by this. This article will give some very definite suggestions on what kind of abstinence to look for in a potential sponsor. It is a common misnomer that time abstinent is the supreme qualifier in finding a sponsor. Our experience is somewhat different. We have found that quality of sobriety is far more important than quantity. We have found that someone who has found our way of life, has been lit afire with the spirituality or our program and just one day sober, has more to offer the newcomer than someone with years of abstinence and is not realizing any of the programs promises – who is bitter, resentful, depressed and ruled by fear.
Our suggestion to the newcomer or the veteran who is struggling, is to find someone who once struggled with the same affliction from which you are suffering, who has the quality of sobriety which will quiet your own conscience and who is happy and contented in that sobriety. Ask them to sponsor you. If they say no, keep looking. When you find a sponsor, follow his or her instructions specifically and quickly. We have this saying: “If you want what we have, then do what we did and you might get what we got.” It's just that simple.
Most of us found sponsors in a meeting. Be sure to check the meeting schedule. In meeting attendance, make finding a sponsor your priority. Find one soon and get to work in the Steps right away. While in school, the smartest students could learn from a text book alone. However, most of us needed a teacher to make sense of what we read. In a 12 Step fellowship, this is commonly referred to as a sponsor.