12th Step Work
I object to but can't do anything about the message that first you need to get a sponsor and then do the steps.
The idea that someone has to be in charge of another's first approach to their higher power isn't in AA teachings. Most folks who stay sober do the first 3 steps in their hearts and alone with their higher power. It is an intensely personal process.
I did the first 3 steps in my heart and in prayer. I told my higher power that I needed help to stop drinking. I said that if I ever wanted to drink again, That would be when i was the sickest and most in need of help. Please don't drop me. Please keep me sober no matter what. Please.
I did all the steps with a loving closemouthed sponsor. I still do all 12 steps. And Thank you Thank you HP for 8,084 days of sobriety.
Loved what Bill Wilson had to say around Roley H time era as he was on the times magazine before the Traditions needed to be wrote " It wasn't good for them and it wasn't goo for me especially if I was right" Bill W
Sure, you can do something about it. You just did, by posting your message here. An alcoholic doesn't come into
AA looking for a sponsor, but he/she is so desperate they
are willing to do anything to get sober. But AA members
today do not seem to have faith that God will do what
human beings cannot do. So the newcomer gets a sponsor
as he is told and starts off on the wrong foot. The more
I investigate, the more conviinced I am that the role
of "sponsor" needs to be deleted. Find a loving close-
mouthed friend to help with the steps, IF YOU DECIDE TO DO THEM. They are suggestions. There is no hierarchy or patriarchy in AA (in theory). Sponsor/sponsee changes all that. ANONYMOUS
In AA's early years newcomers were given a sponsor (appointed) and started working the steps with that sponsor in their first few days of sobriety.
I believe the low recovery rate in AA today is in part a direct result of newcomers failing to get a sponsor and starting working the steps ASAP. What we mostly hear at meetings today is, " don't drink, go to lots of meetings and don't rush into doing the steps". This advice is not working well and in my opinion is a bad suggestion to give any newcomer. Without the steps and sponsorship newcomers continue living with a bad case of untreated alcoholism.
As a newcomer I was constitutionaly incapable of being honest with myself and did not have the living skills to work the steps on my own, regardless of how sincere or willing I was in my own heart. After 22 years of continuous sobriety I still use my sponsor for help with many of life's ongoing problems and AA solutions through the application of the 12 steps. It continues to really work for me!
It is my experience that few, if any, newcomers are able to sucessfully do the steps on their own. Otherwise why would they come to AA in the first place if they are able to solve their own problems? Those that do the steps alone have little success in achieving long term, contented sobriety. Kind of reminds me of the old saying that he or she that represents themselves in court have a fool for a lawyer!
Alcoholism is but a symptom of my serious underlying problems. Character defects and relationship issues are examples of living problems that can only be fixed by doing the steps with a caring, honest,loving and unbiased sponnsor. A person who you trust and respect in and out of the rooms of AA. A sponsor who has done the steps and will share how he/she works, practices and applies them daily in their lives.
Ask oldtimers and other newcomers with sponsors who they would recommend and why. Find the right person by going to lots of meetings and listening to others share their experience, strength and hope. Stop talking and start listening for the first few weeks with the aim of finding the right sponsor in the first month.
Enquire if they have the time and willingness to help you get started on the steps ASAP. After the steps ask your sponsor to help you with the 12 traditions (unity) and 12 concepts (service).
If you find things not working out you can always change sponsors. Sponsors get sick, die or move away or don't have time for numerous other reasons. Always be looking for a replacement sponsor, if needed. I am on my third sponsor in 22 years of sobriety(the first 2 died) and my 3rd now has a terminal illness. I am now looking for my 4th.
One last suggestion. The general rule in picking sponsors is men should sponsor men and women should sponsor women unless of course you are not heterosexual then the reverse rule is suggested. The object is not to get into a romantic/sexual relationship with your sponsor. Newcomers are not emotionally stable to get into new relationships, especially with their sponsors. It is recommended we not get into new relationships in our first year of sobriety unless already in one. This is the voice of experience in AA.
Do not waste any time in getting a sponsor and starting the steps. Procrastination could be fatal as we are dealing with a progressive, incurable and often fatal disease. Few can recover on their own.
Don't be surprised if your sponsor asks if you are willing to go to any length to get sober and what commitment you are able to make. I ask these questions every time I am asked to be a sponsor. If the willingness and commitment is not apparent I suggest they look for another sponsor.
We can do together what I can not do alone.
Keep coming back until the miracle of AA happens and may God keep each of you until then.
Excellent evaluation of sponsorship Oliver!
If you are new or even if you aren't and are questioning sponsors and sponsorship the pamphlet "Questions and Answerws on Sponsorship" is a good read.
A sponsors main job is to help you through the steps. It is very helpful when doing the steps to have someone available to understands them and knows why you are doing them and can give you feed back. If you become friends that is icing on the cake! AA is a microcosm of life and society. Panhandlers panhandle, lonely hearts pine, etc. If you are unforntunate enough to get a sponsor who is saying or doing innapropriate things than get someone elses advise! You have a brain in your head and there is a time to use it!
If you think you are different a friend of mine who has heard over 1,000 5th steps says, "you would be surprised, we are much more similar than we are different".
Be aware of controlling sponsors that gossip and hurt fellow members. Spokane,Wa.
Listen I believe people need outside help why all the craze as if it is part of inside A.A.? A.A'3 3 pertinent ideas are simple and clear and for the ones that know God you'll never be alone again those that don't should find a sponsor or something to help them
Beware of the institutionalized outside sponsorship system that pry on you instead of pray for you.
When all else fails try A.A.
Beware of "pigeon hunters";those very eager to latch on to a newcomer. Tho usually well intentioned are often far off the AA beam.
Thanks for your sustained persistance in your concern about this topic. An oldtimer years ago would often share about the worn typewriter ribbon and hitting the same key over and over would eventually make an impression. I have often
questioned the concept of today's AA sponsor. I was recently at a meeting with a new member at his very first AA meeting. The chairperson "suggested" that he get a sponsor immediately and start working the steps. As harmful as this is, it seems to be the norm at today's AA meeting.
I believe we do this out of ignorance, because that is the way we have been taught. We have morphed from a fellowship
of men and women to a TWELVE STEP PROGRAM, just one of many.
I just read some of the comments on the old I-SAY, and find
some of your comments. Todays SPONSOR along with the chanting and praying (AT MEETINGS) makes AA a cult. Not just cultish,
but an actual cult. And I believe that many members today
think that being labled a cult is OK. I first heard the
description STRANGE RELIGIOUS CULT while viewing a video
made for general public. An A&E film INSIDE ALCOHOLICS
ANONYMOUS produced 1999-2000. This movie starred some of
our AA sponsor types. I see today that the "sponsor" and
most of today's AA members don't believe that the steps
will work unless they administer them. We have little
faith that God will perform His miracle if we simply
share our own story and then get out of the way. That is
what rarely fails when trying to help another alcoholic.
Thanks for all the messages and thanks to I-SAY for
continuing to post them. ANONYMOUS
Not another wanta-bee sponsor playing God - Learn to be a friend instead and we all pray for the wisdom to know the difference of a sick dependency. A.A. is not about you nor me it's about the message not your nor mine but of A.A. Get it and lose the got it BS, Keep coming back -
I'm really not following how it is harmful that a chairperson suggest that new members get a sponsor and get active. It is clear that sponsorship was a different sort in the early days, and clearer still that the steps as they are written today had not been drafted in the earliest. Never the less, A.A. got it's start when Bill's sponsor, Ebby Thatcher, brought him the program of action which Bill was to execute still in his detox bed. Bill then spent six months sponsoring others until he found a receptive audience in Bob. There was no fellowship, there was only program, and even Bill needed someone to show him the path. We now have a beautiful book that has been used by many, with and without a sponsor, to outline the path. If you are suggesting that a person can stay sober while working the steps without guidance and at a leisurely pace, I won't disagree with you. In fact, I have met many in the rooms of A.A. who have stayed sober for decades and proudly point out that they have never read the book, and never worked a step in their lives. But then, I have to ask myself as I look around these rooms, "Do these people have what I want?".
Ebby T. brought the AA message to Bill and left it at
Bill W's feet. He left it there. Ebby simply shared his own
story with Bill. Ebby did no preaching. Bill was alone in
his detox bed at Towns Hospital bed when he executed the
program of action. It seems to me that Bill W. did the
first three steps all by himself in the presence of God,
as Bill understood Him. No one was there to cram the steps
down his throat. I believe this is what Bill is trying to
tell us when he writes on page 8 in Language of the Heart.
Bill writes about the the most powerful authority known,
the authority of his full consent, willfully given.
All of this is part of our public relations policy.
We do not want the general public to view us as a TWELVE
STEP PROGRAM, where the steps are crammed down the throat
of someone needing our help. Tell them what we have. If
they want what we have, they can do what we did, willingly,
not because we tell them they must do so. Attraction, not
promotion, is the key to passing the message. What Ebby T.
and Bill W. had, a religious conversion, had been around
a long time before AA was born. A few alcoholics have always recovered that way. Alcoholics Anonymous was
born when Bill met with Dr. Bob. A method was developed
which led to the wholesale recovery of suffering alcoholics.
This was the absolute need each one had for the other. Bill
did not tell Dr. Bob: That one is God! May you find Him now!
like we do in today's AA meetings. We must allow the new
alcoholic approaching us to find his own higher power, a
God of his/her own understanding. When I look around the AA
rooms at members who are sober and happy, I certainly want
what they have. I listen when they tell me how they got that way. ANONYMOUS
"I'm really not following how
I'm really not following how it is harmful that a chairperson suggest that new members get a sponsor and get active."
1.The outside sponsorship system was needed in hospitals due to the drunk not being coherent and could die due to the shakes.
2.As A.A. Developed the traditions were wrote to protect A.A. From this outside sponsorship system injecting themselves/self proclaimed into A.A. - Take a closer look the Traditions of A.A. Are 100% against the outside sponsorship system.
3.The Outside sponsorship system in A.A. Undermines A.A's ideas, Gods principles and the promises.
A.A. Has only 3 PERTINENT IDEAS – A - B - C why promote something that Undermines them? Along with the promise that INTUITIVELY WE WILL HANDEL SITUATIONS
4.Sponsors are for dunk people who do not know of A.A. - They have become substitutes for someones mommy or daddy in A.A. Or one who cannot grasp the God reality as they are already living it in the promises. NEED WE GO ON?
5.What step did it suggest this? – What Tradition? The 164 pages of the Big Book's program does not even have the word sponsor or sponsorship but the words illusions and delusions are astonishing as many pursue into the gates of insanity or death "SOBER" as drunks don't read the book sober people do unless of course your sponsor told you you were to stupid to read it. NEED WE GO ON?
The outside sponsorship system lacks humility
"Bill then spent six months "sponsoring others until he found a receptive audience in Dr. Bob." Bill W. calls that six months of "violent exertion." No alcoholic responded
because of Bill's approach. Just before leaving for Akron,
Dr Silkworth advised Bill to change his approach. The "little doctor" said to Bill "you've got the cart before the horse". "These alcoholics want to get well but
you are pushing them away". Bill W. wrote several times in our literature that without that advice, Alcoholics Anonymous could never have been born. Bill followed that
advice and our wonderful fellowship began.
My own understanding is that we share exactly what we
were like, what happened, and what we are like now. Not
so much on what we are like now. Newcomers can see for
themselves what we are like now. We ought not tell any alcoholic what to do. Only if they ask, and even then we
only again tell them what we did. We do that without even
implying that they do the same. If they identify with me
that is fine. If not they are sure to find someone they
can identify with if they look and listen.
I believe that steps one, two and three are being
practiced if we are approaching AA for help. "My name is
Joe and I'm an alcoholic", is the part of step one, and
part of step five. Anyone who can read and write ought to be able to follow the guideline on page 50 in the 12&12.
Just how do I take an inventory of myself? How do I go about this? I believe that Bill usually used "practice
these steps", as in all our affairs. I believe that proper
sponsorship has very little to do with telling a newcomer
to work the steps, and then telling him/her how to do them.
This probably seems strange to AA members who have joined us in the past two decades. Before that, we were a fellowship of men and women. Today's AA is a TWELVE STEP
PROGRAM, only one of many.
I know this is very difficult to understand. It is only
in the past decade in AA that I found out that our membership was diminishing. I thought AA was "alive and well". For readers who don't know, we doubled in membership
about every ten years, reaching almost two and a half million in 1992. Today we boast of TWO MILLION STRONG.
Alcoholics are still approaching us, hundreds of thousands every year. We can help them if we return to the technique offerred to Bill by Dr Silkworth in the spring of 1935. As with some other special things in life, if we do not know the technique, and fail or refuse to learn, we will
seldom get the desired results. In the pamphlet "three talks to American Medical Societies", Bill calls this
technique a "gadget". This simple technique is really how
it works. INVESTIGATE, STUDY. please. ANONYMOUS.
All that was said in the second response
Question: Do you understand they are referring to people not in A.A ?
I wonder if anyone posting on these topics has ever bothered reading the chapters on the traditions in the 12 & 12. I also wonder if they have ever read the AA pamphlets printed by the GSO on various topics, including sponsorship. I highly recommend these readings before jumping on the bandwagon bent on diagnosing all that is wrong with AA. The 12 & 12 in particular has a wonderful account of all of the well-intentioned errors committed in the early years of AA by would be "pure and respectable" alcoholics, and the response: not rules against non-conformity, rather rules protecting each groups autonomy, which include that groups "right to be wrong." But don't take my word for it -- read it and look for proof that I am wrong!
Quote "I wonder if anyone posting on these topics has ever bothered reading the chapters on the traditions in the 12 & 12. I also wonder if they have ever read the AA pamphlets printed by the GSO on various topics, including sponsorship."
Yes - and without listening to someone take them out of order
Are you referring to the outside sponsorship pamphlet written in 1976? or the new one written in 2010?
Each AA group is autonomous, and can operate in any manner
it chooses, except when its actions affect other groups or
AA as a whole. If something is wrong, it is my opinion that
it ought to be corrected. Most, if not all, of the well-intentioned errors were explained and corrected, many
after years of hammering out on the anvils of experience.
The truly informed group conscience decisions have a greater
chance of being correct. Every group member has the right
and the responsibility to voice opinions and concerns,
without pressure from group personalities. How many AA groups today actually have group conscience meetings? I
believe that most are run by personalities. ANONYMOUS
Who is so arrogant to even say someone does not have the right to be wrong?
THE OUTSIDE SPONSORSHIP SYSTEM. AKA, Another persons reality a personality.
I have traveled around the country going to AA meetings where ever I find them. I love when I say my name to a bunch of AA strangers and they say 'Hi Susie!" I like saying the serenity prayer at the end holding hands in a circle...and saying" "keep coming back it works if you work it!"
Being a real alkie, I do sometimes think the out of towners are doing it wrong. But I just bless them and ask HP to help me to be as tolerant as I need to be to be doing HP's will for me. I'm in the wrong if I think I'm right and they are wrong and they can be right if they do it my way.
I'm in the wrong if I think I'm right. ?? That just does not make any sense to me. Am I wrong? "Hi Susie!" and "keep coming back ,it works if you work it!" are chants of a cult nature and have no place in AA. Next comes "Hi Susie!", thanks for coming; and thanks for sharing Susie,
with a little jingle and loud applause. Many years ago
individual members acquired the habit of saying to newcomers: Keep coming. That slowly evolved into the group chanting Keep
coming back! Then it was added: It works if you work it!
Then So work it you're worth it was added. Today some
members add I die if I don't work IT! At some groups this
is chanted while they hold on to you, pumping arms up and down. I could be wrong, but I think much of the general
public today view Alcoholics Anonymous as some kind of
freakish joke. Chanting is harmful to our growth. The
reading of How It Works and the 24hr book at meetings
also harm our public relations policy. Add the "hold hands
and pray closing and we become viewed as some kind of
strange religious cult. We drive alcoholics away even before they approach us. To most AA members this message
makes no sense at all. Maybe someday it will, when we study
the history of AA and admit our blunders. Maybe then we can
turn this ship around and become effective again. ANONYMOUS
Brilliant. Thank you for taking the time to write the article.
However I do believe in the reading of how it works. It is my opinion that the media ( movies) in particular have added to the "freakish" cult like view of our fellowship.
Especially when the celebrities become involved.
Our fellowship is a tremendous one, especially when those wonderful traditions are followed, in their entirety.When we vary we will become sick and die.
The reading of the first two and a half pages of
Chapter Five as part of the format is one of the
worst mistakes we have ever made in A.A. It is
followed closely by the incessant chanting.
Reading HIW to newcomers is in stark contrast
to the "cart before the horse idea" advice given to
Bill W. in the spring of 1935. Bill wrote several
times that without that advice A.A. could never
have been born. Dr. Silkworth advised Bill to stop
his preaching to the alcoholics. Bill was pushing
them away with spiritual pride.
Chapter Five, in my opinion, is one of the most
important writings in A.A. But it was never meant
to be the first thing an alcoholic to be exposed
to. It is a critical matter of timing.
Why do you suppose that Bill placed HIW in chapter
five? If it were the first thing an alcoholic is
supposed to hear, wouldn't Bill have placed it
in chapter one. Bill even explains where he placed
it and why he placed it there. If you would only
investigate. A.A.C.A. and Language of the Heart are
the sources of information.
The "freakish cult" view of the media and general
public are reality. Our reputation is no longer
better than our actual character. ANONYMOUS
One thing for sure is the outside sponsorship system has a hard time getting accustomed to A.A.
Time to look at A.A. Tradition and have A.A. take it's own inventory again like it did in 1964. What do you say A.A.'s or do you have to ask your sponsor, Lol
All sponsors are Bad and sick that's why they sponsor nowhere in the 164 pages of the PROGRAM does it say the word sponsor!
God brought you to a good place get a friends list up you can have as many as you want as long as they are not someones sponsor - this is not a need a mommy or daddy program it's about growing up not some I got you don't outside sponsorship follow-ship bull but a fellowship between you and God and then LASTLY another human being not just a human get it?
I've recently stopped responding to a simple identification,but do say thank you after a share. And I notice others following suit.
The chairperson is the only member who ought to say thank you. When the members respond as a group, that is chanting.
Chanting is a cult ritual and has no place in AA. We do not want to further the suspicion from the general public that
AA is some kind of cult.
When I share, I am not doing anything to be thanked
(applauded) for. I actually thank the group for listening
to me, because it helps me.
And you are right, it only takes one person to get a
ritual like this started. That is how the HI JOE! chant was
started in the 1980's. ANONYMOUS
To help someone to the door of A.A.and introduce them to the people in the fellowship is more important than helping them out.
Helping an alcoholic wherever u find them is paramount to staying sober in AA. That said, I can't decide between the two.
Neverthless, 12th step work, being service work, can happen (a) in district, area, or ad hoc activities; (b) in meetings silently with my butt in a chair; (c) in setting up chairs, making coffee, going to business meetings;etc.
To carry the message rather than the Alcoholic should be clear to anyone - Even someone not able to sit up in their seat is a strong message and only in A.A. can bad examples be good ones and have a need to celebrate something we should of been doing long ago . LOL
How do we best help the suffering alcoholic entering our rooms. Please endulge me a moment while I explain this to anyone who cares to listen. A dozen alcoholics are sitting
around a table. At the listed time a member who has been
chosen by the group rings the bell. My name is Bill and I
am an alcoholic. No one responds Hi Bill! or any other chant. Bill is simply admitting he is an alcoholic, with
a tinge of the fifth step, admitting it to others. The
preamble is read explaining what AA is. Bill speakes
about his experience with alcohol: the good, the bad
and the ugly, and explains in simple terms how he got
sober. No one applauds as he concludes his monologue. Bill
simply guides the sharing around the room, after explaining
that the meeting is an hour and everyone ought to be
given the opportunity to share. The meeting will end on time. The meeting is closed with a custom which has
been chosen by the group conscience. you will notice that
all members are treated equal, without any pidgeon status.
No one is made a spectacle of, or allowed to make a spectacle of themselves. No coins: No applause. Oldtimers
and newcomers come together as equals, totally. We need
the new member as much as he/she needs us, equally. This is
how Bill W. met with Dr Bob. And that is what worked. It
will still work that way. We don't have to fully understand
the process. We only need to be obedient. Follow the path
of our co-founders. Sure, each group is autonomous. There
are no AA police. We are responsible to police ourselves.
Are we willing to sacrifice our clamors and desires to
read, read and read: chant, shout, hoot and holler, and
distort our AA meetings into prayer groups, for the sake of
the alcoholic who still suffers? I hope and pray yes. God
can turn the tide, but we must help Him. Anonymous