By: Brother Ed Mortensen, Secretary
While the Worshipful Master presides over the meetings, this is not his only responsibility. Far from it.
The Worshipful Master is the CEO of the Masonic Lodge. He provides the direction of the Lodge and the continuity the Lodge requires. This means he is responsible for the Lodge calendar, budget, and all expenditures:
The Lodge calendar is more than the plan for the month, quarter, or year. The calendar is the basis of the 3, 5, and 10-year plans for the Lodge. Indeed, the amount of detail for these long-range plans are minimal, but it is the direction of the Lodge as set down by prior Masters and upheld by the current Worshipful Master that is carried out within the calendar. It is with these documents in hand that the officers of the Lodge, led by the Worshipful Master, that define the details of—at least—the current quarter and carry on the overall strategy for the Lodge as laid out on the trestleboard by Past Masters.
The Lodge budget is the plan approved by the brethren that dictates not only the expected income and expenses of the Lodge but is the underpinnings of the calendar as set forth by Lodge leadership. By keeping regular accounts, the budget predicts the future and sets up the template for a full and truthful accounting of the past.
You would think that the Treasurer, keeper of the books, funds, and checkbook would be responsible for paying the bills, but that is not so. It is the authority and responsibility of the Worshipful Master, with the consent of the Lodge, to pay these bills. The Master is the checking account signer and with the Treasurer, co-endorses all payments, as specified in the budget, to creditors.
The Worshipful Master is also the keeper of the Lodge Bylaws. He must be thoroughly familiar with this guiding document. The Bylaws are what grants him the power, authority, and responsibility of the office. It also lays out the duties of his junior officers and is the outline for the training he is to provide to them throughout the year.
The Worshipful Master, perhaps most importantly, is a coach. He is directly responsible for the two Wardens, who, in turn, are responsible for the officers below them. But the Worshipful Master is ultimately accountable for the training and supervision of all officers as he guides the Lodge and sees to its course as it navigates the calendar and budget of the Lodge.
The Worshipful Master is “elevated for a time.” When elected, he moves from a worker to the leader of the Lodge for the term of his office. And when his term is ended, he returns to being “a Brother,” though with the added title and honors of a Past Master. This means that he can’t afford to alienate himself from the Brothers since he will join with them as a team member to carry the Lodge forward once he is finished in the East.
When you have some free time, look at the ceremony book of your Grand Lodge and see what the ritual is for the installation of the Worshipful Master. His installation begins with a prayer asking for the guidance to lead the Lodge well. The installation further delineates the responsibilities and requirements of the job.
Harry S. Truman said, “The buck stops here.” As the Master of the Lodge, you have the ultimate responsibility and truly, that is where the Masonic buck stops.