Benjamin Franklin’s Virtue of Order

The third virtue in Benjamin Franklin’s 13 Virtues is upon us. We’ll be focusing on Order for the next few articles and hope, by the end, that you will have found some in your lives. And if not…well, there’s plenty more opportunity to remedy that.

Order is defined by Brother Franklin as having a time and place for all of your business. What he means by business is generally thought to be your daily activities, though I believe that he (being a Freemason) followed the teachings of our order by dividing the day into its three equal parts. Eight hours for your vocation, eight hours for your duty to God and your fellow creatures, and eight hours for rest and nourishment. How successful was he? Well, he has been given credit for many of the inventions that improve our lives, he served in the government, was party to groups and organizations that developed progressive thinking, and aided in our educational system quite heavily. So, I’d say he was pretty successful.

Life has a way of trying to take control. It desires you to be caught up in it like a hurricane wave, and relishes your spinning, tossing, and flailing. The only way to combat that assault is to build a Levy of Order about yourself that wards off the weathering attempts of Life. But is it as easy as it sounds?

Distractions are everywhere. The world is a commerce-driven world. You are being bombarded by sales left and right leaving you with little peace unless you sequester yourself away. And even then your mind wanders to your favorite television show, a discussion you had with your spouse, girlfriend, or friends, or the incident that occurred earlier that day, and your peace is taken from you, making it difficult to focus on the virtue of Order. However, it is vital that you make the time and develop the sanctuary where you can study the chaos in your life and address the lack of order adequately. How many of us genuinely dedicate time to the eight-hour parts we are admonished to follow in our ancient landmarks? How many of us can afford to with everything that we fill our lives with? I answer with, how many of us can afford not to?

Years ago, before I joined this honorable fraternity and knew anything about the craft, I was faced with the necessity to get some control of my life. I worked long hours, had a growing family, and had some very time-consuming hobbies. It seemed like sleep was a luxury I could ill-afford, and God—God was always there so I could ignore service to Him in favor of filling my time with other, less important things. Though I felt that I was still busy, I also felt dissatisfied with my lot in life. Surely life couldn’t be about watching television, movies, playing video games, working long hours, and other things that are never as truly fulfilling as one would hope. So I picked up a planner.

It was one of those leather-bound books from Franklin Covey that you had to buy the fillers for. I sat down at the kitchen table and spent a good hour plus filling it out—I even went into the goals section, the mission statement…every part of it was filled up. It was my introduction to order, and I saw immediate results. Albeit, establishing my priorities was still something I had to work on, but I’d opened the doors and breathed in the fresh air, and I was hooked. I put everything in my planner, and eventually, the planner was upgraded to an electronic planner (also from Franklin Covey). That was ultimately replaced by an iPhone, and that an iPad and Android phone that connects me with Google Apps.

As the order in my life grew, I found I was more capable of accomplishing things I’d previously thought I hadn’t had the time for. I even had time to coach my son’s basketball team! But this was still just the first step in the process. Technology today allows a person to be very organized and providing we use it, we are a leg up on where our predecessors were even a few years ago.

This being the first article in the series, we need to start at the beginning. I would be willing to wager that the majority of our brotherhood has already committed themselves to order on at least the most basic level. If you haven’t, I’d strongly urge you to put to use something that allows you to schedule your life correctly. This is where you open the doors and invite order from the chaos, brothers. This is where you begin to separate your time into your eight-hour blocks. I can attest to the veracity of this claim as I have a large family with children involved in extracurricular activities. My wife is very busy with her volunteer work and I work a full-time plus job, there are church duties, activities for the young men and young women in my family, the children have school and school program involvement, my wife has groups that she participates in, I’ve masonry, art, and writing as well as my business to run, and it is all happening at once at the speed of light. Without order, I would have long ago been left in the middle of the road with tire treads imprinted on my flesh. Our family uses Google Apps very heavily, and it isn’t always the most natural thing in the world to remember, but it is well worth whatever hassle scheduling things and checking a calendar consists of to maintain our sanity and properly break apart our time into our eight-hour blocks.

So here’s the call to action, my brothers. Dedicate yourself to Order…March towards Order. It has a beautiful ring to it, don’t you agree? Good fighting, and next week we’ll continue the discussion.

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