Voices of Recovery today quotes the pamphlet A Guide for Sponsors, “Just as a sponsor is not responsible for the sponsoree’s disease, neither are we responsible for her or his recovery.”  The contributor continues, “I need to follow what is best for me and let go of other people’s programs.”  Since part of my recovery is letting go of a sick addiction to getting my way, I have to learn and re-learn that my sponsorship and 12th-Step support can only be suggestive, not directive.  All people, but especially compulsive ones, dislike and resist being told what to do.  I still catch myself dictating my way, but to do so is to over-attach myself to someone else’s recovery.  That sets me up to take a sympathetic fall if they relapse or turn from the program.  I have enough shame, guilt, and failure to recover from without attaching myself to the recovery of others!  God, help me reflect Your grace, but never assault anyone with it.  Help me lead, but never drag; to serve but not rule; to follow diligently and show the way, but never push or prod.  And help me, Lord, to endure quietly and lovingly the loss of fellows who choose not to follow this road of recovery.  Keep me from, in my pain over their decision, causing them discomfort that might discourage their eventual return.  Precious Father, love them to health for Your sake and theirs.

Proverbs 20:3 reads, “It is to a man’s honor to avoid strife, but every fool is quick to quarrel.”  It was Christmas night of 1995, I sat alone in my house, having just turned over my children to their mother to spend the rest of the holidays with her and her new boyfriend.  It was one of the darkest moments of my life, when I prayed that God grant me three things: a new life, a new wife, and a lack of strife.  In short order, He produced the first two, but I began to believe that the third, “a lack of strife” was unattainable.  But through this disease and the pursuing recovery, God has shown me that a lack or strife is possible, but it comes when I work for it.  This proverb tells me that avoidance of strife is to a man’s honor.  That means it has to do with that man’s effort.  Just the same, I will give the honor and glory to God, who has answered my desperate Christmas prayer of sixteen years ago.  He is faithful!  Of that there is no doubt!

In 1 Samuel 16, Samuel is caught mourning for Saul, who had forfeited the blessing of God for his own vanity.  Verse one begins, “The Lord said to Samuel, ‘How long will you mourn for Saul, since I have rejected him?  Fill your horn with oil and be on your way; I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem.  I have chosen one of his sons to be king.”  This fits amazingly well with the thoughts from Voices of Recovery.  To mourn and moan over the loss of one fellow is to deprive the new fellow of hope.  I need to keep fit for service, with my proverbial anointing horn fill and ready to serve the newcomer or suffering soul with the hope it is my responsibility to share.

Do not be discouraged if your prospect does not respond at once. Search out another alcoholic and try again. You are sure to find someone desperate enough to accept with eagerness what you offer. We find it a waste of time to keep chasing a man who cannot or will not work with you. If you leave such a person alone, he may soon become convinced that he cannot recover by himself. To spend too much time on any one situation is to deny some other alcoholic an opportunity to live and be happy.”  (Alcoholics Anonymous, page 96)