Note from Mike: This is part of a continuing story of Jack as he learns to Become Masonry. See previous blog posts to catch up.
Jack was running a little late but managed to get to his Lodge’s parking lot just as John was pulling in. Jack had been looking forward to tonight and learning more about Masonry from the EA ritual. In the last two weeks he had been trying to read the strange words and had managed to decipher the more common ones but was still a long way off. He knew John would take care of that tonight.
“Hey Jack, good to see you,” John said as he approached Jack’s car, “Any more strange comments from your boss?”
“No, not really, He’s been absorbed in looking his best the last couple of weeks; annual evaluations are coming up.”
“Oh is that right? Does this include yours as well?”
“Yes it does.”
“Let’s talk about that later. We need to get you started on learning your EA exam first.”
Jack and John found a quiet place inside the Lodge building and John began reading the EA examination ritual to Jack. He read a page and then Jack repeated. John continued through the book in that manner until they reached the end. He then had Jack begin reading from the beginning and when Jack got stuck he prompted him. By the end of the 45 minutes they had allotted, Jack was beginning to catch on and was doing well on his own.
“Well Jack do you have any questions?”
“Yeah, what’s the Lodge of the Holy Saint John of Jerusalem?”
“Good question and one that a lot of Masons don’t even bother to ask.” John continued, “The Masonic tradition is that the primitive or Mother Lodge was held at Jerusalem, and dedicated to Saint John, first the Baptist, then the Evangelist, and finally to both. Hence this Lodge was called “The Lodge of the Holy Saint John of Jerusalem. This is the Lodge, according to tradition, from which all Lodges have descended.”
“Is there anything else from the degree or the exam you have a question about Jack?
“Well, I don’t know. I guess it’s all pretty new and I’ll have to think about it. I’m sure I’ll have some questions as time goes on.”
“Jack I want to make sure that you understand the importance of the working tools of an Entered Apprentice. Do you remember what they are?”
“No, I don’t think I do,” replied Jack.
“Turn to the next to last page in your examination ritual and read it again.”
Jack found the page and the line where the tools were described. He thought a minute and finally remembered what was said when they were introduced to him during the degree. John purposely waited a few minutes; he knew Jack was thinking.
Finally John said, “Jack, can you think of some ways these tools can be useful to you?”
“Well, I suppose so, but nothing jumps to mind immediately.”
“Let me ask you a question then. How do you keep track of all your activities in life and how do you decide what things should be priorities?”
“I guess I really never thought about it. There are things that just have to be done. You know, like work, pay the bills, and stuff like that. Other things I guess just happen when they happen.”
John could see Jack was starting to get confused so he said, “Jack the first tool of an EA is reminding us that there are priorities in life. The degree outlines some basic responsibilities and some basic divisions of our time, but intends that each of us should fill in the details. We should each think about what is important and then devise a plan to ensure these important items are given priority. By doing so, we have outlined a plan to live our life in a manner that strives to reflect the values of Masonry and honors our god, our family, and ourselves.”
“What about the second tool?” Jack asked.
“Well to me it is there to remind us that once we have determined our priorities, we should constantly find ways to improve ourselves so we can accomplish our life plan. Remember when we first met you told me you had some dreams for your life; the second tool is there to shape you so you will continually work to realize your dreams.”
“Wow, that’s pretty powerful John, I didn’t know Masonry would do that.”
“It’s almost time for Lodge to start so I want to leave you with this thought. You mentioned your annual review at work is coming up. How powerful would it be if during that review, you outlined to your boss your plan to achieve your dreams? I think you would truly impress him and I want you to do that. The working tools in the EA degree are there to be used. Use them Jack.”
On the drive home after Lodge Jack could only think about John’s final words about using the tools of Masonry. Once home he pulled out his laptop and begin to write.
As Jack pulled into his company’s parking lot at 7:00am he noticed a number of co-workers were already at work. The previous night’s experience at Lodge was still on his mind as he reached his desk and began to unload his backpack. It was not uncommon for him to take home reports so he could read and absorb the content in the quiet of his apartment. He pulled out several he had taken home yesterday and put them on his desk.
Jack works for a company that develops and markets software for financial services firms; financial planners, investment advisors and accounting firms make up the majority of their customer base. Jack had been lucky. He immediately began work after his college graduation last year. A great number of his friends are still interviewing hoping to find jobs. If they are working, they are doing whatever they can find until the right opportunity comes along.
By Brother Jens Rusch
Jack’s degree is in marketing and when hired he began work in the sales department as was assigned to making calls to potential customers. The company has a management training program in which Jack is enrolled and this job is where everyone starts. Jack really didn’t think of himself as a salesman so he looks at this job as just a stepping stone to what he really would like to do; owning a marketing design firm that produces promotional campaigns.
Jack really hadn’t thought of this dream when John had asked him if he a plan for his life. Jack pulled out his phone and added an entry in his Masonry folder. It was a reminder to add this as a goal in his personal development plan.
Jack had turned away from his desk and hadn’t noticed his immediate boss, Jeff Sevren, had walked up to his desk. When Jack turned around Jeff was flipping through something he had picked up from Jack’s desk. Jack’s surprise turned to horror when he realized Jeff had his EA ritual book. It must have been on top of the reports Jack had pulled out of his backpack.
“Good Morning Jack, what’s this?” he said waving the ritual book at Jack.
Jack was immediately at a loss for words. His mind flashed back to the degree and he remembered the oath about not disclosing any of Masonry’s secrets and now here was his boss asking about his ritual book. Jack wasn’t sure what Jeff’s reaction would be when he told him that he had joined the Masons. After a year, Jack had not quite decided how to react to Jeff. He was a nice enough guy but always seemed to be looking out for himself, loved to cut corners and was always joking about ways to fool his boss, except of course when his boss showed up and then he pretended to be the ultimate, super-hero employee.
“It’s nothing, “Jack finally said, I meant to leave it at home.”
“Nothing, it looks like some super- secret code. Come on Jack, level with me, you’re not a spy working for the CIA are you?”
“Ok, it’s my Masonic ritual book and I wasn’t supposed to let anyone see it unless they are a Mason.”
“So you are a member of a secret organization. I’ve heard about those guys, don’t they do weird crap in the meetings with skulls and bones and they’ll kill you if tell the secrets? At least that’s what I’ve seen on TV.”
“It’s not like that at all. Look, I’m just learning about the Masons and I really don’t think I should be talking to you about it. My father was a Mason and my Uncle Ted helped me become a member. My father was a great man and so is my Uncle Ted, so I don’t think they would have been involved if it hadn’t of been worthwhile.”
Jeff was not about to let up. “Well they may not have known what truly is happening. The TV show I saw said that there is a higher level of degrees that only a very few have received. The average guy like your Dad and Uncle don’t even know it’s going on. These elite guys want to take over the world and their using the other Masons to help them and the Masons don’t even know it. I’d watch myself if I were you.”
Jack was really starting to get irritated at his boss. When he had asked his Uncle Ted about joining Jack had brought up to his Uncle some of the things he had seen and read on the internet. Some of them were even worse than what Jeff was chiding him about. His Uncle explained that Masonry has some very vocal critics but most of them, even when provided the truth, continued their incessant rants. Ted told him that a Mason, even though they may want to defend Masonry, shouldn’t waste their time arguing with such people. Jack then remembered that at the end of the EA degree there was a statement made which said pretty much that.
Jack wanted desperately to change the subject and his head was spinning trying to think of something, anything to get Jeff off his Masonic conspiracy lecture. Finally he said, “Jeff, do you have a plan for your life?” Immediately after the words came out of his mouth, Jack almost gasped in horror that he had just asked his boss that question. It must have still been on his mind from when John asked him.
“Plan for my life? Buddy-boy you’re looking at the plan. Jeffrey David Seffren, that’s all I need, don’t I have success written all over me? Pretty soon I’ll make regional sales manager, then division manager and if I keep my nose clean and my numbers up, I’ll be a shoo-in for VP of sales. And then someday I’ll be running this place and on easy street.”
“Wow, that’s impressive,” said Jack, “you must really like this place and what you do.”
“Hey, it’s a job. You don’t have to really like what you do. Haven’t you figured that out? The corporate world is a game and if you play the game right, kiss some butts, and smile all the time, you get noticed. So you have to cut some corners and run over a few smucks along the way, that’s life. By the way, are you now some kind of guidance counselor along with being involved in this secret Masonic stuff?”
Luckily Jacks phone rang. “Jeff I have to take this, it could mean a sale for me.”
Jeff walked away and Jeff answered his phone, “Hello this is Jack Stephen.”
“Jack, this is John Grogan, sorry to bother you at work but I just wanted to thank you for coming last night and wondered if you had any further questions.”
“John, it’s great to hear your voice so soon. Matter of fact I was going to call you because I just had a conversation with my boss about Masonry. He saw my ritual on my desk had picked it up and was leafing through it. Then he started this whole thing about how some elite Masons are trying to take over the world and how you and I don’t even know about it. I was really starting to get mad and was about to lay into him about it but didn’t.”
“What stopped you Jack?”
“Uncle Ted told me that I might run into people who thought some strange things about Masonry and it really wasn’t worth my time to argue with them. I think I also remembered at the end of the degree last night that advice was in the EA Charge, wasn’t it?”
“You’re exactly right, it was. I’m proud of you. You remember we talked that Masonry’s ritual is not just words. The ritual presents lessons that each Mason is to think about and then apply to his life. You have taken an important step in becoming Masonry. You applied Masonry and it worked for you.”
“It sure did and this will give me a great story to put in my journal this evening. I started one last night. I’m also going to write about the question I asked my boss.”
“What did you ask him Jack?”
“If he had a plan for his life.”
“What did he say?”
“He told me how he had it all figured out and someday he was going to run the place. The sad part was he said that it was just a job and you just have to play the game to get ahead. It doesn’t sound like the plan you and I talked about. Jeff’s an OK guy, maybe he just needs some guidance, like Masonry.”
“Maybe someday that will happen Jack. Well, I’ll let you go; talk to you soon.”
Jack wrote in his journal that evening about the encounter with Jeff. He wanted to make sure he understood the two Masonic lessons he learned today. The first he had talked with John about on the phone; don’t let your love of Masonry get you in arguments with people you don’t know anything about it. The second John remembered was that Masons were reminded by the compasses that they were to be careful about their passions.
Jack was sure there were other lessons to be learned from the EA degree but would have to wait until his session with John who will teach him to read the ritual. It was something to look forward to.
If you have not read this book I would suggest you do.
From the Preface:
“The book will steadfastly support the definition of the Craft as a philosophical society which demands of its members the highest standards in all areas of its labour.”
What your Lodge is doing that you think is Masonry and what WB Hammer describes as Masonry may be two entirely different things. After providing his definition of Observance, he then deals with what he believes are Distractions which in his opinion dilute pure Masonry.
He then discusses The Pursuit of Excellence in general and goes on to more specifically discuss Dress and Ritual. He then provides an opinion on the importance and operation of The Festive Board.
Finally he describes how an Observant Lodge would operate and begins by saying:
“An observant Lodge is a Lodge that seeks to uphold the highest standards of the Craft.”
There are many that may disagree with WB Hammer’s practice of Masonry as described in the book, but there is no question that to preserve the valuable practice of Masonry we must seek an effective method to restore its greatness.
We all are very quick to refer to the great men of history in Masonry, but are we willing to practice Masonry as they practiced Masonry? If they are so revered why are we not emulating their Masonic practices?
I challenge you to begin to help restore Masonry and become a man that future generations will proudly refer to. Read the book and then begin to improve yourself and by doing so you improve Masonry.
There has been building for some time in a great number of organizations a momentous catastrophe that if not acknowledged and acted upon will have devastating results.
This event, a Leadership Cliff, will occur in these organizations because effective leaders are not being created throughout their entire organization. Ultimately, over time, this will cause a decline in purposeful intent and productive action that eventually will lead to organizational apathy.
This will occur because these organizations have failed to:
Properly select individuals with the proper qualifications to lead Properly created a process of continuous leadership education Recognize the importance of creating leaders not followers Maintain an atmosphere where creative and innovative leaders can thrive Realize the importance of a shared, inspiring vision Create effective teams Understand a sense of urgency exists Remember what they believe Practice what they believe Believe
All of these failures can be fixed. Good leaders understand how. Go find some people and make them leaders.
The junction of Highways 61 and 49 in Clarksdale, Mississippi is designated as the famous crossroads where, according to legend, Robert Johnson supposedly sold his soul to the Devil in exchange for mastery of the blues. He didn’t receive much success during his life but he is now considered to be a blues legend. Obviously he was willing to give up everything, including his soul, to become a great blues player.
Leaders must understand that sacrifice is a part of being a successful leader. John Maxwell says that leaders must give up to go up. If you are unwilling to make sacrifices you should think about your original reasons for becoming a leader.
If you find yourself at a crossroads, think about why you became a leader, what difference do I want to make, what are my passions and then what am I willing to give up to get where I want to go.
There is no success without sacrifice. You don’t have to sell your soul to the Devil but at times it may seem you have to.
Here is Eric Clapton and Steve Winwood at the Crossroads