Making Good Men, Better Men Since Time Immemorial
Making Good Men, Better Men Since Time Immemorial

grand secretary

The Successful Worshipful Master

Now that you have that Worshipful Master position…

Taking a half-day management seminar is not going to teach you what you need to know about supervising people.  In fact, the only way to really learn what it means to be a supervisor or manager is to be one.  At the same time, it is important to go into the Worshipful Master role with the proper attitude – one that is grounded in the notion that you are not perfect.  Keep in mind that trying to avoid mistakes is an admirable, but unattainable goal.  In fact, trying to avoid repeating mistakes is probably the better approach.  By now you are fortunate; you have served in many chairs as an officer of the Lodge.  A role model over the years who has demonstrated what it means to be a good manager and officer.  Generally, the greatest managers are those who are great leaders.  Demonstrate and direct those you already possess and try to work on those that you do not.  Leadership skills are not necessarily elusive.

Five things a new Worshipful Master should consider…

While there is no single, correct way to lead, there are certain things a new Worshipful Master should consider.  For example:

  1. What leadership skills, distinguishing quality and abilities do you possess?  Which ones are lacking and how can you develop what you need?
  2. Who are the men you will be leading or supervising? The members and officers of the Lodge.  Your job will be in communicating with proper instruction.  A more stable mature Lodge may need a Worshipful Master who allows the Lodge to run itself.
  3. What do the members of the Lodge expect of you?  Are you familiar enough with the institution’s culture to act appropriately and to set a solid example?  Can you be the kind of Worshipful Master your Grand Lodge wants and expects you to be?
  4. What are your own aspirations and expectations?  Do you have the desire and the energy to be a good Worshipful Master?  Are you eager and confident enough to do an effective job?
  5. Can you pool all of your knowledge and experience so that you are able to make fast, appropriate Worshipful Master decisions when you are called upon to do so?  Are you familiar with Lodge policy, legalities, and individual needs of your members?  Also, your Grand Lodge expectations to know how to respond to changing situations and circumstances.

Unless and until you are clear on these considerations, you may not be ready to step into the Worshipful Master position.  Once you are comfortable with them, however, you are ready to make a start on being an effective Master of the Lodge.

Great Master of a Lodge… Can be made…

They say that great Masters are born, not made. However, the other school of thought says that Masters possess common traits.  These traits are no secret, so being a great Master is simply a matter of acquiring or developing these traits.  The first thing to keep in mind is that great Mater’s have vision.

The term “visionary” is tossed around so frequently, that it has little meaning these days.  It might be described as being a thoughtful planner.  A great Master of a Lodge sees past the existing condition or state of his Lodge and imagines what could be.  This becomes the vision or goal.

The Master must then be able to express this vision to the officers and members in such a way as to make it compelling.  The more effective the Master, the more compelling the goal.  The more compelling the goal, the more motivated their followers be become.

Worship Master – First job is to inspire action…

Consider the great leaders of history.  George Washington, for example, painted a picture of freedom for the new world called “America”.  His vision was so compelling that he moved armies of men into action.  While this is an extreme example, the point is that the goal is not what makes the Master.  It is the vision and the expression of that vision.  The compelling goal might be to replace the roof on the building of the Lodge or simply to install a new computer system and under budget.  Whatever the case, paint the picture in a way that makes the officers and members of the Lodge want to obtain it.  Once you have inspired action, the momentum will help move you ahead.  A subtle point to not here is that a poor Master and officers drains the energy of the members.  There is nothing more difficult than trying to bolster the productivity of a work team when the Master or officers is/are unable to command a degree of respect.  Work done begrudgingly as a result of verbal humiliation will not retain the quality necessary for continued success.

Create Positive Energy…

A good Master, a good Officer, creates energy and draws out the natural energy and enthusiasm of the members of their Lodge.  While your members are using their energy to move toward the vision, your job is to make sure the pathway is clear.  Any obstructions that stand between your officers or members and their success should be cleared away by the Worshipful Master.  These roadblocks might come in the form of outside resistance, lack or resources, etc.

Leadership is a two-way street…

To be an effective Master, you must have the support of your officers and members.  This is something best tackled by means of good communication.  While your Lodge’s goal may be something that you don’t have control over, strategy to achieve that goal can and should be a group effort.  Talk to your members.  Get their input and their ideas about how to achieve whatever it is that you are setting out to do.  Your officers should feel good and willing to help.  This means, they should not feel helpless or afraid to speak up and share ideas and opinions.  For example, if you are searching for solutions to a problem, bring a set of solutions to the Lodge, but be open to suggestions from the members.  A member needs to feel as though his input can generate progress and create positive change.  Support your members.  Let them make mistakes and learn from them.  The lack of originality and risk-taking is the mark of a Lodge that is soon to be extinct.

Be Adaptable and Flexible…

Flexibility is another important skill you should have.  In today’s working world, change is the only constant.  The best Worshipful Master and the most note-worthy Lodge leaders are and will continue to be those who can most readily and most easily adapt to changing circumstances, situations and members.  The style you are using now may not be effective next year, or even next week.

Seven Traits of an Effective Master…

  1. Clearly define goals, direction and responsibilities for each Officer and member of the Lodge.
  2. Successfully communicate necessary information to all Officers and members of the Lodge.
  3. Work with members to establish expected results and achieve those results.
  4. Use the right person for the specific job function.
  5. Build an open, trusting, respectful, and honest relation with all members.
  6. Give Officers and working members’ recognition whenever it is deserved.
  7. Get more out of members without losing control.

One of the best ways to motivate members to produce more and better work is to give them more control.  This includes making their own decisions, managing their own time and working independently.  But how can you follow such advice while also retaining control of your team?  After all, you’re the Worshipful Master and your members do need your leadership, no matter how much responsibility you give them.  Here are some tips to keep in mind…

There is a difference between responsibility and power.  Yes, you need to give members more responsibility.  That way they’ll be more responsible, make better judgements, and learn to think on their own.  You need to give your members the chance to do things on their own and even to make their own mistakes.  But this doesn’t mean putting the power of running the Lodge in their hands – that’s your job.  In fact, many members may not want that kind of responsibility.

Empower your members.  What they want is to know that you have confidence in their ability to master their own tasks.  They want the sense of pride thar comes from have done something independently, thinking a problem out and solving it.  So, it’s up to you to choose the areas in which you want to give them more responsibility.  Pick a discrete task and say, “I’d like you to handle this on your own.  Feel free to ask me questions but go ahead and work on it alone.”  If the task is suitable for a team, ask two or three members to handle it together.  That will accomplish team building and increase responsibility at the same time.  Also check back from time to time to see how the work is going.  Your members will be relieved to know that you are there if they need you.

Some members don’t want responsibility – and some want too much.  Just as you need to pick the task, you need to pick the person when it comes to assigning extra responsibility.  Some people really do want to be told what to do, while others just want some guidance.  There are some who are power hungry.  If you give them the chance, they will try to take over your authority.  One tell-tale sign that you have a power-hungry member is that he will start telling other members what to do.  You must put a stop to this right away.  This is probably a member who is not a good match for his job, but one who, with the skills to match the ambition, may have promotion potential.  In the meantime, however, you are the Worshipful Master of the Lodge and you are the one in charge.

Delegate Meaningful Tasks…

Responsibility for its own sake isn’t going to help anyone.  Your members will feel as if it’s just a game.  You need to assign tasks with meaning and ones that will benefit your Lodge and Grand Lodge.  So, think about what needs to be done and what members can do more independently.  Then, make assignments accordingly.

Ask for Feedback…

A very good way to encourage responsibility and to learn something useful is to ask members to comment on how work is progressing, how operations are done, and how things could be Improved.  Members like participating in decisions and they are ideal participants since they are the ones doing the work.  Ask for their feedback.  You’ll be glad you did.  You will have cultivated the concept of responsibility while still being the Master in control.

Tips on Rewarding your Members…

Here are some of best ways to let members know you value their efforts:

  1.  Praise:  It can’t be stressed enough.  Praise is what makes members happy.  If a member knows that his Lodge members are pleased with his work performance, he will keep trying to improve his performance.  The reason for this is simple, he wants to keep earning that praise.  The Worshipful Master’s praise is worth a lot in emotional value.  Members get a great amount of self-satisfaction from knowing they have done something correctly.
  2. Party:  If a committee or team has done a really great job on a project, it may be time to celebrate.  You may want to do the celebrations with a meal.  Something simple like a cake and refreshments.  This lets your members know that you appreciate their efforts.
  3. Public Recognition:  This act differs from praise because a broader audience is involved.  Try a plaque with the engraved name of every member of the year.  Whatever route you choose, the member will feel valued when you make his great efforts known to all members and others that may visit the Lodge.  After all, members are proud when they do a good job and they would like other people to know that they are appreciated.  Maybe for some, their employer should know.


  1. To contribute to the overall goals of the Lodge.
  2. Demonstrate the values put forth in good standards of conduct.
  3. Practice responsibility and professionalism in all areas of life.
  4. Reliable, dependable, and honest.
  5. Look for the good in other people.
  6. Work well with others to get things done.

Prepared and Presented by:

Garry P. Wates

Past Master


Lodge #519


Notice of our 2021 Annual Communication

Please be advised by receipt of this notification that the 2021 Annual Communication of your Grand Lodge will take place at the Embassy Suites Hotel / Convention facility in downtown Montgomery, Alabama on November 9th and 10th 2021. Grand Lodge registration credentials and related information for the Lodges will be forth coming in the near future.

You will find an enclosed registration form for the Embassy Suites….. Read more

Election of Officers: Commitment & Responsibilities

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

The Tenets of Our Order Are Brotherly Love, Relief, and Truth

On January 25th , a tornado ripped through the Fultondale and New Castle Communities in northern Jefferson County, barely missing the Gardendale Lodge, but causing massive destruction to the neighboring communities and taking the life of a 14-year-old boy.  It is disasters like these when we, as Masons, can exercise these important tenets in our community.

Brother Nick Chieffo of Brooklin Lodge #704 visited with Brother Paul Thomas of Gardendale Lodge #907, and together, with the help of Brother Melvin Cochran of Sam Thompson Lodge #456, organized an effort to raise funds and supplies for those affected.  Brother Chieffo, and another member of Brooklin Lodge, Brother Bryant Fortenberry, operate a food cart in addition to their usual vocations.

After contacting as many of Brooklin’s members as possible in a short time, they brought their food cart to an emergency staging area in Fultondale. Although several of their brothers from Brooklin were able to attend, they were quickly overrun with demand. Brother Chieffo said he was amazed by the number of brothers who were there already or who came after a quick phone call. They jumped in to help man the cart, purchase additional cart supplies and help in any way they could.

Before long the brothers from Gardendale, Sam Thompson and Brooklin were joined by masons from Acacia #670, Maryland #783, Milton H. Fies #722, Brookside #552, Hewitt-North Birmingham #519, Georgiana #285 and Huffman #633 Lodges, as well as brothers from the GAOTU Tribe of the Widow’s Sons. Brother Andy McCaleb of Milton H. Fies, brought his bobcat and helped clear debris.

In a matter of hours, the food cart raised $3,000 from sales, and other contributions – from masons and community members alike – totaled just over $3,000, generating in excess of $6,000 that was immediately donated to the relief efforts.

This truly is Freemasonry at it’s best!

Brother Bruce L. Patterson, PM

Secretary, Brooklin #704