Thursday, December 11, 2014
My Ideal Masonic Lodge - Part 2 - Service & Leadership
In a previous paper I shared my thoughts in an essay of what I would consider the Ideal Masonic Lodge. The idea for the title came from W. Bro. Chad Simpson, WM of the Ohio Lodge of Research, a body I presently hold associate membership in.
Previously, I covered what could be taken as some basics of membership along with what many of us may feel are reasonable basics that should be met regarding ourselves and potential new members we accept into membership of our Craft Lodges.
In this writing I wish to address what I see as a key element to Masonic membership that can become corn-holed inadvertently due to distraction. That missing element is Leadership, and oft times poor leadership can be traced to poor service.
A person unwilling to SERVE at all times after being placed in a leadership position indicates a serious matter for the lodge (or other organization) that places such a person in a leadership role.
To be fair, it isn't always the fault of the poor leader; said leader could have not been taught properly which will expose another flaw of the Craft Lodge system. The premise is that no Master will take on more Apprentices or Fellows than he can adequately instruct or has work to assign them. On the surface this just seems like long-winded ritualistic baggage that may have outlived its usefulness in our technologically advanced age we are now in... I hope to show why it is still relevant, and can help create the ideal lodge if applied properly.
As it is the responsibility of the Master to set his Trestle Board and make adequate plans so that he can set the Craft to work and give them proper instruction for their labors, the Master plays an important role in this entire equation I AM discussing in this writing.
We are all aware of membership declines that have steadily increased in the last four decades of the 20th century and are still taking place at this time in American Freemasonry. There have been many articles, papers or other research used in attempt to determine what has caused this steady decline and this writing is no different in that I AM offering but another opinion arrived at after 25 years of Masonic membership.
Though I AM chronologically young in age under commonly accepted Masonic standards, at my current age of 46 I have had the privilege of holding Masonic membership for 25 years. For that reason I consider myself a dinosaur, a part of the "has been" crew. In spite of this humorous opinion of myself, I have great respect for our Masonic regulations and traditions, and would not consider altering them in any way without serious thought being given before doing so.
One of those commonly accepted traditions is taking a new member and appointing him to what could be considered an entry level position in the lodge. Depending on the lodge and its needs, that entry level position in a majority of cases may be one of the Steward positions.
For me, it may be advantageous to any lodge that is in proper working order to start any new member in a Steward position for one key reason; that reason being that ALL must learn to SERVE before any can expect to LEAD. I have seen nowhere else where SERVICE is more important in a fraternal organization than this of Freemasonry.
I AM in no way advocating that true merit and talent should be stifled, stepped on, or excluded in any way. [That decision would seem to be an internal lodge matter on deciding how or when to advance a member as election or appointment of officers is by vote of the lodge or its Master]
The additional aspect of serving in the various stations and places of the lodge is that the young member learns the workings of the lodge, an important process to become competent at one's craft, whatever that craft may be, and the young member learns what it is to serve the others by serving the lodge. This would follow our Masonic tradition of "having done as all brothers and fellows before me".
Along the way, that same member is learning to lead in that every station or place carries certain responsibilities with it, and all elected and appointed members diligently carrying out their duties helps the lodge function in a smooth, efficient manner which honors the Master (who took time to plan the work) and pleasures the Craft (who carried out the planned work) so that all may be able to be called from labor to refreshment in due season when labor is completed.
A connection that I have observed gets lost in the flurry of activity when instructing a new member is that Masonic lessons and teachings are life lessons and teachings when one looks at them from another perspective --- operative and speculative are the two words we should stay mindful of, and please take heed to categorize lessons under one of these two headings as they are all relevant to us in our travels.
It is my sincere hope that this writing inspires the reader to seek a new vantage point for an alternate perspective. We all can use a little reminder from time to time.
I have also provided a link to the original paper for those wishing to read it...
My Ideal Masonic Lodge (an essay)
More Light by H.W. Sanders
Leadership Means More Than Faithful Service by S. Brent Morris
Mackey's Jurisprudence of Freemasonry by Albert G. Mackey
Selected Readings of Morals and Dogma - selected and arranged by Albert Beckman
An Inconvenient Truth about Freemasonry by Nelson King
Experience of Masonry as a Transformational Art by Robert G. Davis
Anatomy of the Spirit by Caroline Myss, Ph.D.
Copyright © 2014 Raymond Sean Walters a/k/a Renaissance Man