Power, Authority and Responsibility in the Freemason Lodge

By: Ed Mortensen, Secretary

What is Power?

Anyone in the Lodge can have and wield power. Power is the personal influence a Mason has within the fraternity. It is earned through experience and demonstrated impact. It can influence the Brothers and Lodge to do great things, but it also can be misused when mixed with ego, causing friction and divisiveness within the Craft.

What is Authority?

The Worshipful Master has the authority granted to him by his position. Authority is given not earned. It is the ability to give orders that must be obeyed within the Lodge. Authority is the root of authoritarian, but is such authority is not required. There are many forms of leadership, and the most successful leaders demonstrate their jurisdiction with the cooperation of the Brothers. Authority can be granted to subordinates by the Master, but only authority is transferred, not responsibility.

What is Responsibility?

The Worshipful Master is ultimately responsible for the success of the Lodge. Responsibility is the duty owed to the Lodge in the form of credit or blame for that success. I’ve said that “the buck stops here” concerning the Worshipful Master and it is never more accurate than in a Masonic Lodge. The Master’s Year represents the responsibility to maintain and advance the aims of the Craft within the Lodge.

Is There Really a Difference?

Absolutely! Power is the potential for influence and is earned. Authority is the granted rights of leadership. Responsibility is the final duty owed the Lodge for its success or failure in the Work. These three concepts work hand-in-hand within the Lodge. The Brothers, especially the officers, use both Power and Authority to accomplish their work.

I’ve mentioned the Worshipful Master. Hopefully, he has both power and authority, and hopefully, he accepts the final responsibility of the Work and Brothers of the Lodge.

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