When presenting a paper, ideas, or observations it is easy to get into a “preaching mode”. Please believethat in doing this paper for the 3rd or 4th time it has been a chore to avoid just that! I am and will attempt to convey by my own experience and observationswhat I have learned and observed through almost 49 years of being a member of this fraternity as it deals with the topics of this paper.
From my years in the US Navy, businesses that I have been involved in, either as an employee or owner, and this fraternity, I have worked to try and learn all that I could about those tasks, jobs or offices that had been assigned to me or elected to fill.
As an employee one must work and contribute to help the business grow, and to be profitable. As the business grows, you will be recognized for your contribution with pay raises and promotions, if, you have not only worked, but studied and learned as many aspects of that business as possible. You must prove to your employer that you are an asset to him!
As a business owner you must work harder and contribute more than any employee you may have to achieve success. You must learn the different aspects of that business because you cannot supervise or instruct others unless you at least have a basic understanding of each facet of your business. Fail doing this and your business will fail!
As a Lodge Officer, it was my goal to not only learn every aspect of the office that I occupied, but the one that I would fill if I proved myself proficient to the Lodge. As Master of the Lodge, I knew the duties of every station and place, opening and closings, degrees, and lectures. The Master’s duty is not only to lead the Lodge but to instruct where needed, and to set the example for those to follow.
The first rule of leadership is to never ask or direct someone to do something you have not done or would not do yourself. To be a good leader you must know all the aspects of the job or position you are filling, and the duties associated with that position. Ignorance is not an effective leader!
Which brings us to the main topic of this Paper “Commitments and Responsibility”.
There are Lodges in this State that will take any “warm” body and put it in office, knowing that the individual is not qualified, and has no clue as to the duties and responsibilities required. This contributes toan already serious issue of declining membership, and Lodge closings. The Lodge is a business, and like any business with poor, untrained, or careless management,it will fail!
From 75,000 members to 19,000 members in 60 years is quite an accomplishment in reverse! Due to population increases one would have expected the opposite!
Knowing that the reasons for the decline may have multiple reasons, and the fact that no one has put a finger on the exact cause; rest assured that Lodge attitudes, management, and leadership have been contributing factors.
Rather than electing those who are unqualified or have the attitude they are doing the Lodge a favor by serving; choose a knowledgeable Past Master for that elected Place or Station. Knowledgeable, strong, and caring leadership will work miracles in any organization!
At a Stated Meeting in June, prior to June 24th, every Lodge in the State of Alabama will have their Annual Meeting, and among other items on the agenda, theelection of Lodge Officers for the ensuing year will take place. This Election is the most important event of the year for any Lodge. It will determine by increments, the future success or failure of a Lodge.
This is also when those currently occupying their respective Offices anticipate and expect to be elected to the next highest office in the Lodge, because most Lodges believe in a “progressive line” where Officers are elected to the next highest office based entirely on seniority. Those seeking office at the bottom of the rotation or to fill vacancies created by those dropping out, start letting others know of their desire to have one of those offices.
The Ancient Landmarks, which you may find in your “Monitor”, in Article IV state; “All preferment among Masons is grounded upon real worth and personal merit only, that so the Lord may be well served; the brethren not put to shame, nor the Royal Craftdespised; therefore, no Master or Warden is chosen by seniority, but for his merit.
Prior to the election of Officers, the Brethren of the Lodge need to evaluate not only those seeking office, but those currently holding office, and wanting to be advanced. The election process should be approached as a performance review for those currently holding office, and job interview for those seeking office. Just because Brother John Henry Jones was Senior Deacon does not qualify him for the next office, or to be retained in his existing Office, unless he has provenhimself to be attentive to the duties and responsibilities required of him in his present position.
For those currently holding elected office, especially that of the Junior and Senior Warden; ask yourself before casting a vote; have they faithfully attended the
Stated and called meetings of the past year, have theystudied and shown proficiency, not only in their currentoffice, but the one they seek. Have they displayed initiative, have they lived up to their commitment to perform the duties of their office to the best of their ability? Have they exhibited leadership; have they studied and made themselves familiar with the Masonic Code. In your mind are they qualified to lead the Lodge in the office of Master? If you cannot come up with a positive answer to these questions you are not doing the Lodge any favors by advancing them!
The Lodges need to be aware of who they elect and the reasons that person wants to be elected. That person needs to be aware of the duties and responsibilities of the office he is seeking.
For those seeking an Office for the first time, please ask yourself “why” do I want this office? Is it for me, my own personal satisfaction, or do I think I can make a positive contribution to the Lodge? Prior to puttingyour name forward for an office, it might be a good time for some soul searching and to answer questions that may arise such as: Do I really have time for this? Will this office cause conflict with my family, job, or church? Will my family support this decision?
Will I be able to fulfill my commitment and responsibilities to the Lodge and to perform those duties expected of me? Once you take an office you have an obligation to the Lodge that as a man, and Mason, you must honor. Always remember when you are elected or appointed to an office you are to Serve the Lodge to the best of your ability.
There are words that have been used such as honor, duty, responsibility, obligation, commitment, leadership that are all connected to an office in this Lodge.
Honor: a. high respect, great esteem, b. adherence to what is right or to a conventional standard of conduct. C. something regarded as a rare opportunity andbringing pride and pleasure, a privilege.
When you are elected to a Lodge Office the Brethren of your Lodge have HONORED you with their trust and Confidence. You are HONOR bound to perform the duties of that Office to the best of your ability.
Duty: a. moral obligation, a responsibility. B. a task or action that someone is required to perform,
As a Lodge officer you have a Duty to do the job you were elected to fill. When you are installed, you have given your word as a Mason to do your duty as it pertains to that office.
Commitment: a. the state or quality of being dedicated to a cause, activity, etc. b. an engagement or obligation that restricts freedom of action.
For those that are married, each made a COMMITMENT in their wedding vows to their wife. The strength of that commitment and how they honored it will determine the length of that marriage. For those who are employed, you made a
COMMITMENT to do your job to the best of your ability. Not fulfilling that Commitment will find you unemployed! When you accept a position in the Lodge, either elected or appointed, you have made a commitment to the Lodge to perform the duties of that Office and allocate the time required to do so. Failure in your COMMITMENT will not result in loss of employment, but it will lead to loss of faith in you as a man of your word and decrease your stature among the members of the Lodge. There are consequences in not fulfilling any COMMITMENT.
Responsibility: a. the state or fact of having a duty to deal with something or having control over someone. b. the state or fact of being accountable or to blame for something. c. a thing that one is required to do as part of a job, role, or legal obligation.
To be the Worshipful Master of any Lodge is a great RESPONSIBILITY. The welfare, growth, or sometimes the survival of the Lodge rests with the effective Leadership of the Master. Every Mason who has a desire for Lodge Office should read the “Installation of the Master” in your Masonic Monitor. It outlines the duties of the Worshipful Master, step by step, and the Responsibility that goes with that office. From the Junior Deacon to Worshipful Master the RESPONSIBILITIES increase with each office.
Obligation: a. an act or course of action to which a person is morally or legally bound, a duty or commitment. b. the condition of being morally or legally bound to do something.
As Masons we take obligations as we progress throughthe various degrees. These OBLIGATIONS build on one another and are to impress upon us their importance in our dealings and interactions not only with our fellow Masons, but those in our communities. When you accept a Lodge Office, you are assuming an OLIGATION to every Brother in that Lodge to perform every task that the office requires. Again, you are giving your word as a man and a Brother Mason.
Leadership: a. the act of leading a group of people or organization.
Through the election process the Brethren of any Lodge are looking for those Brothers/Officers who will be effective LEADERS, and hopefully have those qualities of LEADERSHIP to guide the Lodge to new heights.
Ego: a person’s sense of self-esteem or self-importance.
Every person has an ego, but the main concern in a Lodge is to control your ego, and make it work for the benefit of the Lodge, and not to cause distraction or conflict.
Remember these words, their definitions and how each one applies to every officer in a Lodge. They are more than just words; they are statements to a man’s character.
Each Lodge should be electing those who demonstratea desire to learn, a love for the Lodge and the Fraternity, and most of all, who will make the commitment to serve to the best of their ability andstay that course. Most Lodges have these types of people if they will search their membership roll and get them involved.
In summation I will say to the Lodge “choose wisely”! You do not have to settle for mediocracy in selecting officers. There is no pride in having something such as a title given; but there is pride when it is earned!
To the current Lodge Officers, I pose this question: If you performed the job that you make your living with,the same way you do your job as a Lodge Officer, would you still be employed?
Choose Wisely my Brothers!
Author: John Strickling, PGM