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:
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.
1. Let’s face it! Can we expect Freemasonry to retain its past glory and prestige unless the level of leadership is raised above its present position? On many an occasion in the past 14 years, Masters and Secretaries have come into my office to ask my advice on what to do about lagging interest. Again and again I have said, “There is nothing wrong with your Lodge, nor with Freemasonry, that good leadership will not cure.” I believe that.
2. How well are we guarding the West Gate? Again, let’s face it. We are permitting too many to pass who can pay the fee and little else. On every hand I hear the same whispered complaint, “We used to be getting petitions for the degrees from the good, substantial leaders in the community. Now we are getting… ” Just what it is they are getting, you know as well as I.
3. Has Freemasonry become too easy to obtain? Fees for the degrees are ridiculously low; annual dues are far too low. Everything is geared to speed – getting through as fast as possible and on to something else. The Lodge demands little and gets little. It expects loyalty, but does almost nothing to put a claim on a man’s loyalty. When we ourselves place a cheap value on Masonic membership, how can we expect petitioners and new members to prize it?
4. Are we not worshipping at the altar of bigness? Look it in the face: too few Lodges, with those Lodges we do have much too large. Instead of devoting our thoughts and energies to ways whereby a new Master Mason may find a sphere of activity within his Lodge, we let him get lost in the shuffle. Then we nag and harangue at him because he does not come to meetings to wander around with nothing to do. We are hard at work to make each Lodge so large that it becomes an impersonal aggregation of strangers – a closed corporation.
5. What can we expect when we have permitted Freemasonry to become subdivided into a score of organizations? Look at it. Each organization dependent upon the parent body for its existence, yet each jockeying for a position of supremacy, and each claiming to be the Pinnacle to which any Master Mason may aspire. We have spread ourselves thin, and Ancient Craft Masonry is the loser. Downgraded, the Symbolic Lodge is used only as a springboard. A shortsighted Craft we have been to create in our Fraternity a condition wherein the tail can, and may wag the dog.
6. Has the American passion for bigness and efficiency dulled the spirit of Masonic charity? The “Box of Fraternal Assistance” which once occupied the central position in every Lodge room has been replaced by an annual per capita tax. That benevolence which for ages was one of the sweetest by-products of the teaching of our gentle Craft has, I fear, ceased to be a gift from the heart and has become the writing of a check. And unless the personal element is there, clarity becomes as sounding brass and tinkling cymbal.
7. Do we pay enough attention to the Festive Board? Should any reader have to ask what the Festive Board is, that in itself will serve to show how far we have strayed from the traditional path of Freemasonry. Certainly the Festive Board is not the wolfing of ham sandwiches, pie and coffee at the conclusion of a degree. It is the Hour of Refreshment in all its beauty and dignity; an occasion for inspiration and fellowship; a time when the noble old traditions of the Craft are preserved.
8. What has become of that “course of moral instruction, veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols,” that Freemasonry is supposed to be? If it is a course of instruction, then there should be teachers, and if ours is a progressive science, then the teaching of a Master Mason should not end when he is raised. I am not talking about dry, professorial lectures or sermons – heavens no! That is the kind of thing that makes Masonic education an anathema. Where are the parables and allegories? Alas, they have descended into booklets and stunts. No winder interest is so hard to sustain.
9. Hasn’t the so-called Century of the Common Man contributed to making our Fraternity a little too common? We can not expect to retain the prestige the Craft has enjoyed in the past if we continue without challenge to permit the standards of the picnic ground, the bowling alley, the private club and the golf links to be brought into the Lodge hall. Whether we like it or not, a general lowering of standards has left its mark on every Lodge in Indiana, large and small.
10. Are there not too many well-meaning Brethren who are working overtime to make Freemasonry something other than Freemasonry?
It was an unhappy day when some eager beaver conceived the idea that our Craft should adopt the methods of the service club, or the luncheon group, or the civic league, or the Playboy outfit. Whoever the eager beaver was, he lost sight of the fact that one of the reasons our Fraternity is prized so highly is that it does not operate like other organizations.
Well, that should be enough for one dose. The following pages elaborate on the ten points enumerated above.
Let me give you fair warning. In the following essays I shall call a spade a spade. Some of my readers are not going to like it. But what I have to say I believe our Craft needs to hear, and it is only for the “good of the Order” that it is said.
I shall propose no bright new ideas – not one. All I am going to advocate is that Freemasonry remain Freemasonry; and if we have strayed from the traditional path, we had better be moving back to the main line while there is yet time to restore the prestige and respect, the interest and loyalty and devotion that once was ours.
I was looking for reference material on building a vision to use in a presentation and ran across a copy of The Grand Lodge of Indiana’s mission statement. I thought it captured the essence of Masonry and in such a short statement outlines the mission we all should adopt. Here it is:
Mission Statement of The Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of the State of Indiana
adopted May 17, 2005
“The Mission of the Fraternity of Free and Accepted Masons, was, is and shall be, to teach the art of Freemasonry to all Men of Good Character thus inspiring them to practice the art of Freemasonry in their homes, communities and daily lives. This Association of like minded men improves and strengthens the character of each Brother, reflecting Freemasonry and thereby perpetuating the values through the Fraternity.”
The Grand Lodge also further defines Masonry in their Declaration of Principles. Click here to read it.
We would all do well if we accepted these statements and lived them.
I was preparing for a presentation and one of the sections is about a leader’s legacy. Not many Masonic leaders have probably thought about the legacy they want to leave to the Fraternity.
In Dr. Maxwell’s The Law of Legacy he offers four thoughts on how leaders should develop a legacy.
Is your legacy just a bunch of titles you have accumulated to list in your obituary? Wouldn’t it be much more rewarding to know that your contributions will live on?
How do you create a Masonic legacy? Create another leader. Start doing it today!
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.
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
We as Masons are always very quick to point out the great leaders who have been members of our fraternity. The founding fathers, US presidents, notable sports figures, and other great men who have rose to prominence or acclaim.
So I ask the question;
Who will men 200 years from now proudly proclaim as members of the Masonic Fraternity?
Who will be the great thinker or teacher, the great president or senator, the great mind who inspires multitudes of others by his written or spoken word?
Are we preparing that great man by allowing Masonry to flourish as system that stresses the improvement of the soul, the embracement of knowledge, the questioning of our condition and then using Masonry as a dialogue seeking answers? To me these things provide an environment that allows great men to rise.
What are you prepared to do today to create the great leaders of tomorrow? If we all do not act today there will be no great Masons. All we will have is a faint memory of great men.
Lead yourself first; begin practicing Masonry today and strive to be that great Mason of tomorrow!
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.
There seems to be no shortage of Masons who are dedicated to doing what they believe a lodge does and work very hard at it. But I have often said that in many cases these proud, hard-working Masons’ energies are misdirected. Misdirected how?
We seem to have, in many cases, a system that focuses on the process of creating new Masons and have built an organization that supports, inspects and rewards the process and not the quality of the output. There are lodges creating Master Masons like Steve Jobs is creating IPads but no one has asked them; “now what are you going to do with them?”
Our focus is on the evaluation of the creation process but the greater focus should be on the education process that occurs after a man is made a Master Mason. There, in my opinion, is the “white knight” we have been looking for.
If we supported our purpose of “taking good men and making them better” with an education system that was designed to do just what that statement says, and then inspected and rewarded that effort I am sure we would see wonderful results.
“Masons will constantly endeavor to provide an excellent masonic experience through impressive, meaningful ritual, competent and well executed lodge management while creating leaders who will serve Masonry, their communities and their families.”
This statement was intended to expand the “taking good men and making them better” statement and further define its meaning and purpose. It also purposely used the term “masonic experience” with the intent that the “experience” would be defined by meaningful lodge programs and education. And once those programs are in place a system would be designed to evaluate and reward them.
It means that if we changed our focus to educating men instead of making Masons and then encouraged, supported and rewarded this effort, Masonry would thrive.
The “white knight” we are waiting for has been there all along. We even say it; “We take good men and make them better.” We just need to put some things in place to back up our statement.
If you want to be a leader think about how you can put programs in place to make men better. Don’t think you can’t do it because you can. John Wooden said, “Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.”
Rededicate yourself to living every day the principles of Masonry. Each of one of us is the change we seek for our craft. If you first learn to lead yourself, then you can lead others. You then start to reveal the “white knight” we all are looking for.
Have a great Masonic day!
I’ve looked at them numerous times but it wasn’t until recently that I saw them in a different light. In discussing a leader’s legacy in leadership class I suddenly wondered; “what legacy did each of those leaders leave?” Was there some extraordinary event or program that a particular Master initiated that still remains or caused something to happen that dramatically altered the lodge in some way?
In my lodge it is easy to find those whose who can be connected to historic events in the history of the lodge. The first Master, the Master when the building was erected, the Masters who served the centennial and bi-centennial years and the Master who led when the lodge ownership was transferred to the grand lodge that ensured our financial well-being by eliminating the costs of building ownership.
But as I scanned the pictures and came to those Masters who served at the time of my becoming a Mason and on to the present time, my thoughts were not of historic events or programs but of my recollection of my relationship with them. When I look at their pictures my thoughts immediately go to the times we worked on lodge projects together, performed degree work together or just laughed together. I really can’t recall whether they were regarded as good leaders, I can only recall that I regarded them as good brothers and I truly enjoyed being around them.
So today I look at leadership legacy with an expanded perspective. These Masters I knew well left a lasting relationship legacy with me. For each of them I can recall a conversation, a funny story or how they practiced Masonry. This is the legacy the matters the most to me.
A big part of your leadership legacy will depend upon the relationships you build and nurture.
The statement by Dr. John Maxwell “people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you really care” is so true. My thoughts about the Past Masters of my lodge were not about their knowledge but about my good relationships with them and their caring attitude toward me and the other brothers.
So when some brother in the future looks at your picture on the wall what thoughts will go through his mind about you? Will his first thoughts tie you to some event like “Mike was Master when the ceiling fell down in the lodge room,” or will it be “Mike was a really great guy and a great Mason.”
What will be your legacy? Think about it.
Have a great Masonic day!