John attends a “Not So Perfect Lodge Meeting”

A note from Mike: This is a continuation of the story that began last post. If you missed it click here.

It had been several weeks since John attended The Perfect Lodge Meeting but the thoughts of the experience came to mind as entered he the Lodge building of his friend and brother Mason Ted. Ted had invited John to attend degree work for Ted’s nephew Jack who was to receive his Entered Apprentice degree.

John had attended Ted’s lodge before so he knew that the degree work of the Lodge was usually proficient, but the entire degree experience somehow lacked the dramatic atmosphere that John was used to at his own lodge. Nonetheless, John was looking forward to the evening.

John recognized several Brothers he knew so he circulated through the room saying hello and also introducing himself to the Brethren he had not met. Among the Brethren were several present and past District Deputy Grand Masters and one current grand lodge officer. His friend Ted was a Past DDGM and had invited many he had met while serving his three year term.

The Lodge’s Master, Tom Calvin, headed for the East so everyone, sensing he was about to open, found seats.  This was the third time Tom had served as Master. The dwindling membership of the Lodge made it difficult to find those willing to serve as officers so Past Masters such as Tom had been stepping in to fill the void.

“Good evening Brethren,” Tom began. “Before we get started I have a favor to ask.  We need to fill a few holes in our stations. Would someone on the sidelines be willing to serve this evening as Senior Warden? I’m not sure why but our Sr. Warden isn’t here. I guess we need a Senior Deacon as well, thank you Brother Secretary for noticing that.”

John was a little startled by admission that the Master didn’t know why he didn’t have a Senior Warden and that he hadn’t noticed at all that the Senior Deacon’s position was unfilled as well. He thought it was a little sad that one of the most important events in the candidate’s Masonic life was about to begin and little or no thought had been given to whether there was going to be enough Brothers to fill the stations.

In John’s lodge the entire year had been meticulously planned. Each officer had been given a calendar of meeting dates, including potential specials for degrees, and asked to identify as best as possible, potential conflicts. At the officer’s meeting at the beginning of each month, each officer reported what dates they had conflicts and announced the Brother they had asked to fill in for them. The Master also confirmed with each officer their attendance one week prior to each special degree meeting.  This ensured that all stations were filled.

Luckily, two officers from another Lodge were in attendance and agreed to fill the stations. The Master proceeded in opening Lodge and during the opening John noticed two of the PDDGM’s continued to talk and at times laugh at something they were discussing. John was glad this didn’t happen at his lodge. At his Lodge, prior to opening, the Master reminds the Brethren of the importance of the degree experience and that unnecessary talking detracts from the beauty of the degree.  He asks those in attendance to remember that silence and circumspection are to be practiced.

The Master rapped the gavel, announced the purpose of the meeting, rapped up the Sr. and Jr. Stewards and the degree began.

As the Stewards left to prepare the candidate, John noticed that one was wearing slacks and a golf shirt. The other had on a tie but no jacket and his apron was on a little crooked. John cringed because he was accustomed to the strict dress code adopted at his Lodge for degree work. The officers were either all in tuxes or all in dark suits; no exceptions.

This was a part of “The Excellence of the Degree” manual that was used to ensure that all degree work was performed at the highest level and uniformity of dress was an important aspect. The manual also called for a “walk-through” of the degree prior to its presentation to ensure that each officer was comfortable with their part. The Entered Apprentice degree was considered of utmost importance as it was the first impression the Lodge makes on a candidate and John’s Lodge strived for perfection in all degrees but especially the EA.

The degree, lecture and charge concluded and as the Master left the East to congratulate the newly initiated Entered Apprentice, John thought to himself that the experience had been uninspiring. There had been too much prompting, parts that were delivered with no voice inflection or enthusiasm and finally someone read the charge; not very well to boot.

Worshipful Master Calvin handed the degree booklet and a divided ritual to the new Brother and said, “Here is a booklet you can read and the ritual is in code so we will need to find someone to help you learn it. You’ll need to memorize it before you can get your Fellowcraft degree.”

In John’s Lodge careful attention was paid to the instructions given to a new Brother. It was done by the Lodge Education Officer and had been carefully thought out. It reinforced the significant of the duties the Brother had just assumed and impressed upon him that the work of the degree had only just begun. The assignment of a mentor was an extremely important decision and each new Brother’s mentor had been carefully chosen. This Brother would council the new Brother throughout the remaining degrees and helps direct him in preparing his personal improvement and life plan. The Lodge mentors also were a source for recognizing potential Lodge officers and offering training for those with the desire to lead.

As the Lodge was being closed the Brothers had already started talking among themselves and no one thought to instruct the new Brother what was taking place. Once the meeting was closed the Master said, “Thanks Brothers for attending and our Stewards both had to work so they didn’t have time to pick up refreshments, so I guess that’s it for the evening.”

John went to talk with the Master about something that was on his mind. After the discussion he thanked his friend Ted and congratulated Jack on beginning his journey to become a Mason. John then surprised both Ted and Jack by saying the Master had agreed to let John become Jack’s mentor even if he did belong to another Lodge.

Jack asked John how that could be possible and John’s reply was this:

“Masonry is not about joining a particular Lodge; it’s about taking Masonry’s lessons and using them to honor your God, become a better man, a better provider for your family, and a contributor to your community. A good friend and Brother once told me that Masonry is not something you just join, it is something you become. Part of my duty Jack, as a Mason, is to help you become Masonry.”

John thought as he drove home maybe this “Not So Perfect Lodge Meeting” would turn out something perfect after all. He made a mental note to call Jack and set up their first meeting.

Next: John meets with Jack and asks a startling question.

I Didn’t Believe This When I Heard It!

 

“Don’t worry when you are not recognized, but strive to be worthy of recognition”

Abraham Lincoln

Last night I was at a gathering and sat next to someone who had recently attended the state annual meeting of one of the Masonic related ladies’ organizations. He told me it took; now get ready for this, SIX HOURS for Introductions.

Now I don’t know about you, but even if the room was filled with former US Presidents, foreign dignitaries, and iconic rock stars, sitting on your butt for six hours while they are introduced and allowed to make comments is cruel and unusual punishment.

Real leaders understand that the most important people in the room are those they are attempting to lead. Titles have no importance so taking time to introduce the Past Assistant Chairman Pro-Tem for Making Sure We Have Refreshments At Every Meeting person is just plain wrong.

Leaders understand that their title just gives them some immediate recognition which allows them to begin the process of proving themselves as leaders.

Leaders begin to connect to form positive relationships, they inspire and build teams, they demonstrate their worth by producing action, they identify and mentor other leaders and many leaders do all of this without a title.

Real leaders don’t need to be introduced, they are already known.

Have a Great Masonic Day!

Mirrored Leadership – Things Just Go On

I recently experienced a hard drive failure on my main office computer. But instead of creating a situation of panic and fear for all the data residing on the hard drive, I was able to view this event as a minor inconvenience. That’s because when I have my office systems built I have mirrored hard drives installed. What this means is that any input to my computer is automatically stored on two separate hard drives. The failure of one does not affect the integrity of the data on the other. Hence the word mirrored; one is an exact copy of the other.

To correct the situation the offending drive is removed, a new one installed and software rebuilds the new one into another mirrored copy of the other; problem solved. All the while the other drive is functioning normally and your data’s integrity maintained.

It’s too bad that this type of setup is not always employed by organizations. Many think they just need one leader not two and fail to further recognize the value of creating as many leaders as possible. The more leaders you have the better chance that the failure of one will not affect the effective function of the others.

The value of more leaders is not that you have leaders who are exactly alike, but leaders whose skills and talents complement each other. The differences are recognized and utilized as production tasks are assigned based on strengths not by job title. So your leadership team is not exactly like the mirrored drives in a computer, the clones of one another, but selected so they fit together like the pieces of a puzzle.

However what should be alike is their attitude, their vision for the organization and their agreement that the more leaders we have, the better off we will be. With this culture built into the organization it will continue to function even if there is a single leadership failure.

My computer is back functioning with two healthy hard drives. Thank goodness I didn’t have to start all over again.

Have a Great Masonic Day!

Getting ready for when the little green men come

A recently released study by three scientists explored the possible outcomes should earth be visited by aliens from somewhere else in the universe. The study listed a number of outcomes from beneficial to harmful. Contact with extraterrestrials might lead to a discussion of math and science or helpful information on solving issues like world hunger or poverty. Or, at the other end of the spectrum; Aliens could intentionally plan to eat or enslave people on earth.

I don’t know about you, but waking up and worrying about being eaten by an alien is not something I do often. What I do worry about is when they land and utter those immortal words “Take me to your leader” and we can’t find one.

So maybe before the aliens show up we need to assess how we select leaders in our volunteer organizations. Do we know what leadership qualities we are looking for? If we do, is there a selection process designed to find potential leaders with these qualities?

Jim Collins wrote about the leadership selection process in volunteer organizations and said that when searching for leaders and there is no compensation at all, that doesn’t excuse you from attempting to find the best possible leader. He says, “it makes selectivity all the more vital.”

With the success of your organization riding on the abilities of those leading, doesn’t make sense to find the best qualified people you can?

Here are some suggestions that can help raise the quality level of your leaders.

  1. Outline the responsibilities of each leadership position and the organization’s expectations on how the responsibilities are to be carried out.
  2. Decide what qualities and talents are desired in your leaders and develop a list.
  3. Communicate the responsibilities and qualities to the entire organization and commit to using them as a tool to assess potential leadership candidates.

The important thing here is to get buy-in and commitment from the organization for this process. It will be much easier to develop it than to actually apply and use it. It you start granting individual exceptions then you have doomed the process to failure.

So when the little green men come and say “Take me to your Leader,” wouldn’t it be great to be able to say, “We are all leaders, how can we help you?”

Have a Great Masonic Day!