Companions stick by your side through the journey. When I think about companions, my mind instantly goes to that diminutive duo of the big screen – Frodo and Sam from the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy. In the beginning of their journey, they had a guide, then two, in Gandalf and Aragorn. You see Aragorn teaching Frodo and Sam how to fight and survive and leading them through the wilderness up until the group of nine had to separate.
It is at that point that we see the true value of a companion. The two hobbits make the trek of their lives together, supporting each other. In true friend-fashion, they have disagreements, but they reconcile with one another and continue on to their final destination. As companions through the journey, they don’t just provide support for each other; they laugh together, encourage each other in the darkest of times, pick one another up, ponder paths with each other, and, ultimately, inspired themselves and others to do and achieve greater things.
The roles that Sam and Frodo played in each other’s lives are the roles a companion plays – supporter, encourager, helper, challenger, and inspirer. Some companions will play only one role; the best one, the one to keep in your life forever, plays all five (and, most likely, some I’m not mentioning; comment and fill me in). In your quest for and evaluation of companions, let the following qualities guide you:
- Trust – Do you trust this person? Will they share your secrets or give you bad advice? Trust should be the bedrock of a relationship, especially when you are going through the trials and navigating the unknown territory of masculinity.
- Accountability – Will this person hold you accountable? There are so many danger areas and ways we can slip off the path or get sidetracked or lost in our development as men that we must have someone to hold us accountable. In like fashion, we must also be able and willing to hold them accountable. Remember that although this is a shared journey, you may know one leg of the trip, but they know others. If you’re not willing to hold them accountable, or they cannot do it for you, one of you may wind up being lost or delayed on the journey.
- Common goals/beliefs – If you don’t believe the same things, if you don’t want the same things, then your paths may look totally different. What might be acceptable to one person may be completely foreign or repulsive to you. You don’t want a companion who might lead or encourage you in a direction that doesn’t match your goals or beliefs. Thus, clarifying this and seeking out those shared essentials is a must.
- Perseverance – A good companion never gives up. Have you had a fair-weather friend? One who is there for the fun, but bails when you need him most? Why would you want that person on your journey with you? No, the companion you want is the one who toughs things out, who is willing to forgive and ask for forgiveness, and who seeks to overcome life’s challenges. This same perseverance is shown through a desire for growth, as we shall see next.
- Growth – Ideally, you and your companion will begin the journey together at roughly the same level. You don’t want to have to pull him along with you or feel like a burden to him as you navigate life’s trials. But, while you might begin at the same level, you also want to grow. Many a male has been held back and kept from maturing because the friends he keeps don’t want to move from their boyish lives. You must seek out companions who desire to grow and mature as well. With them, when trials come, they won’t flee but, rather, will see it as a chance to grow.
If we walk through life without a companion and merely rely on guides, we rob ourselves of the self-discovery we gain through experience and overcoming life. A guide has already lived what we’re going through; a companion lives it with us. While the guide’s foreknowledge is important, our experience and growth as men and the support we receive from companions during it is essential. We have to reach out, reach over, and find a companion or companions who will live life with us and join us in the journey.
To finding companions to support, encourage, help, challenge, and inspire us on our journey to the mature masculine,
For further reading, I highly suggest the following: