All of us, without exception, need a sponsor and/or accountability partner—someone who can confront us with truth and love without placing shame and guilt. A sponsor must demonstrate compassion, care, and hope—but not pity.
In John 21 we see an ideal sponsor working to help Peter in his recovery. Peter had publicly denied ever knowing Jesus—the man who was his Lord, his teacher and his best friend. He needed to get back on the road to recovery, to undergo some authentic character changes. To Peter’s credit, note that, even in the pain of his failure, he stayed with his group (see vv. 1–3).
Jesus himself filled the role of the sponsor/accountability partner for his fallen disciple. He sought Peter out, fed him (see vv. 4-14) and showed him compassion before he moved to confrontation. Then Jesus took Peter aside to help him face his pain and shame (see vv. 15-22). Jesus’ words to Peter included a call to evaluate his love for Jesus and to minister to others (see vv. 15-17). How would this disciple take the first step? The Lord gave him a simple instruction: “Follow me!” (21:19)
In recovery, we are called to honestly examine the past and face our pain and shame so that our love for Jesus can continue to grow. We are able to do this by making attendance at our recovery meetings a priority, maintaining an honest view of ourselves, staying connected to a group, getting involved in service, and maintaining spiritual contact with Jesus through prayer and study.
How do we know our love for Jesus is growing? How do we know when we are following him? We know we love the Lord when we think less about ourselves and more about the needs of others.