Responsibility of Lodge Leadership

Masonic Lodges are designed to benefit all members. The entire construct of the Lodge is a body that functions only if each and every cell within is working together towards the same goals. The responsibility of Lodge Leadership is to ensure that the uniform direction of the body is in alignment with the desires of the members and to see that the plan is executed. Executing such a plan can be a lot of work and it would not only be impractical for one man to be responsible but it would be entirely unfair. The work requires many Brothers to be involved and therein lies the biggest challenge for the officers. 

I’ll be outlining the roles and responsibilities of a Masonic Leadership at the Lodge level but I won’t be taking the path that so many other articles have focused on. I’ll be looking at the functional groups and addressing the challenges that they face, the benefits to the Lodge, and the effect on the Masonic Body when the role fails in their responsibilities.

Starting From The Beginning

Benefits To The Lodge

Stewards are the beginning of the line and a huge part of the group that’s designed to take care of the Craft while at refreshment. It is within this role that Master Masons begin their official education on their way to becoming the Worshipful Master of the Lodge. These two positions are nurtured and mentored by the Junior Warden. 

Most Masons think of this group as the part of the Lodge that organizes activities, events, and meals. While these are their main responsibilities, proper education of the Stewards is essential to fortifying and securing the future leadership of the Lodge. 

Selfless service, that’s what the Stewards roles are about but they are not to be left alone to serve meals, clean up afterward, and struggle through the ceremonies. As previously stated, this is where the education truly begins and the entire Lodge is responsible for their success.

The Junior Warden should take the time to go over the Stewards’ parts in ritual and ceremony. Not just to teach them the footwork and the staff work, but to review the meaning of the words they say, the importance of their actions and the responsibilities of those they will be engaging with during their duties. Further education can be offered on adjacent parts so the understanding of the Master Mason is much greater and their education is focused.

Effect On The Masonic Body

If we are to just focus on the Stewards’ duties then we’re missing the point. Forced service without the accompanying education renders the whole exercise useless. Those serving as Stewards in the Lodge must be capable of self-education but they must also have direction. 

Why are they serving? After all, the Masonic Body is just as capable of taking on meal responsibilities, serving drinks, and cleaning up. Ceremonially escorting and preparing candidates is in and of itself a small part in the lives of the Stewards but the lessons one can learn from doing so are innumerable. When the Stewards are not only working but are also being educated, we are building the future stability and success of the Lodge.

The successful planning and execution of events including meals and public meetups, help the Stewards and the Junior Warden in their development. In fact, the care of the Lodge in this regard is the major point of education for these positions. This is where future leadership learns to truly be concerned about the membership’s well-being. 

The duty to educate the Stewards directly lies in the hands of the Junior Warden. He is not only responsible for the way they carry themselves in ceremony and ritual but for their education in event planning, temple care, and service to the Craft. The Senior Steward is to assist in the education of the Junior Steward but ultimately, the success of these two offices lies in the hands of the Junior Warden. 

What Happens With Failure

Failure to involve and educate the Stewards results in a weak link in the Line. Those within the position want to serve, they may even want to advance all the way to the position of Worshipful Master, but when asked to sit as the Junior Deacon—if they haven’t been properly educated—they are woefully unprepared. In Lodges where they are forced to advance too quickly, Masonry loses.

Mid-Level Leadership

Benefits To The Lodge

Here, I’m grouping together the Deacons and the Senior Warden. The Deacons, Junior and Senior, have duties that specifically put them in support positions to the Senior Warden and the Worshipful Master. I group the Deacons together with the Senior Warden and leave out the Worshipful Master due to one standout duty of the Senior Warden. He is in charge of Lodge Education and as the right-hand man to the Worshipful Master, he is responsible for showing the Deacons how to serve.

The Junior Deacon is to work with the Junior Warden to make sure that the Senior Steward is learning the ritual and responsibilities of his station in the West. Wise leadership also have the Junior Steward working on the Senior Steward’s role responsibilities and acting as an understudy to the Junior Deacon position. As in a game of Chess, backing up each role a couple of levels deep is highly advisable. 

Additionally, Deacons who have studied the words of their parts and know the meaning are stronger in their foundation and more capable of participating in the education. By truly acting in support roles to the Worshipful Master and Senior Warden, these men get further insight into the workings of the Lodge. Their time spent as Deacons enables them to move forward in the officer line and act with confidence in their leadership. 

Effect On The Masonic Body

Masonry is about education first and foremost. These positions are responsible for the care of furthering the Lodge’s education and always working towards the agenda set by the Brothers and led by the Worshipful Master. When these roles are filled with strong, engaged Brethren, the educational aspect of the Lodge flourishes which, in turn, increases the interest level of Brothers and provides solid value to the Craft. Furthermore, men in these positions can effectively head up committees and can fill in when others are absent. 

It is here, too, that Brothers can look into themselves and determine if they want to progress further in leadership. Seeing first-hand what kind of work is involved in the Warden’s and Worshipful Master’s seats should be eye-opening and eliminate the option of moving forward if the individual truly isn’t ready. But should the Deacons be fully engaged in their roles, they should be well-prepared for the duties that potentially lie ahead and the time commitment to their future duties that accompany them.

What Happens With Failure

Without a strong Senior Warden heading up the education of the Lodge, the duty either falls heavily on the Worshipful Master or is neglected altogether. Either way, the Deacons suffer as they are then floundering while wondering how to support the Brethren wearing the immovable jewels. Even something as simple as moving up to accept the immovable jewel when the officer is required to step away from his chair can be lost. Sure! They know that they are supposed to do certain things as outlined in their parts during openings and closings but that’s just the surface of their responsibilities.

Without the full education, without the dedication to their roles, a Lodge finds itself struggling to maintain growth, a movement towards goals, and drought in future leadership. While a new brother can be plugged into the Stewards seats and fumble through the responsibilities with some help, the Deacons are involved at a much higher level. No lodge may function long without these roles being well-represented. 

Support Roles

Benefits To The Lodge

Within this group, we have the positions of Chaplain, Marshall, Tiler, Treasurer, and Secretary. We know the surface responsibilities of these roles and each has its importance in ritual and ceremony. When we look deeper we see a unifying purpose.

The Chaplain is to act as the mortar between the Brothers. He is the person in charge of Brotherhood if you will. The Chaplain should be a person that is trusted within the Lodge, wise and able to be available to members as a Masonic guide, connecting Masonic education and practice directly with the Supreme Architect of the Universe and the revealed Word upon the Great Trestleboards in a nondenominational way. The Chaplain should work closely with the Junior Warden to see that the needs of the Brethren are met while at refreshment. The Chaplain should work closely with the Senior Warden to make sure that the Brethren are receiving the guidance and care they need while at work. This is not a disengaged role but one that requires service and distinguished involvement at all times. 

The Marshal is the master of ceremonies which puts him in the unique position of being a constant coach and moral support for the Craft. Marshals should be individuals who are capable of watching the ritual for mistakes and assisting in coaching those who are interested. In our Lodge, the Marshal also handles communication and public-facing media like the website, Facebook page, Facebook Group, etc. An active Marshal will work with the Senior Warden to make sure that the ritual is on point and that any need for practice is being met. He will also work directly with committee chairs and the Worshipful Master to deliver the latest news and calendars to the Craft in a regular and timely manner. Such dedication keeps every member of the Lodge informed and progressing in their Masonic careers.

The Tiler is often one of the first people that members and the public meet as they come into the temple building. The Tiler’s presentation and friendliness will impact the initial mood of anyone they encounter. Additionally, the Tiler’s care of the antechamber and the way he comports himself works wonders for the presentation of the Lodge.

An alert position when the Lodge is at work will set the example for those entering the Inner Chambers and warn of the body at work. A smile will show that the Brother is welcome. As many Lodges ask a past master to be the Tiler, there is potential as well for the Tiler to be a font of knowledge. 

By the time a Master Mason sits in the Treasurer’s and Secretary’s seats, they should be very well-informed, experienced in Lodge tradition, and knowledgable about the by-laws on both a State and Lodge level. Both are great resources for all of the Brothers and should be ready to share their knowledge but not overbearing. Not only do these roles keep the Lodge’s books in order, which is paramount to the Lodge running smoothly, but they act as foundational cornerstones. 

Effect On The Masonic Body

With each functioning role fully engaged, the Lodge becomes a healthy body. From the Tiler to the Treasurer, active and experienced Brethren in these seats will showcase an inviting and lively culture that encourages others to not only participate but to join.

What Happens With Failure

Each of these roles is responsible for core responsibilities and duties. You can imagine if the Secretary fails in his duties just how chaotic things would be. Or, if the Treasurer failed in their duties, how quickly would that hole become necessary to repair before the whole Lodge sinks? Now consider what would happen if the Tiler were to be a lackluster entity without the door and a visiting Brother arrives. What kind of opinion would the visitor have of the Lodge on a whole? Or what would happen if the Marshal fails in their communications duties? Or the Chaplain never engages in the relational aspect of his role? 

The Lodge falls apart, people become resentful because they have to take on their duties as well as someone else’s, and all things come undone.

The Craft

Benefits To The Lodge

Right now, you’ve read the title of this section and thought, “I thought he was just writing about Lodge Leadership.” Well, guess what! The Lodge leads the Lodge. Each member is a part of the leadership team. We elect our leaders to carry out our plan for the Lodge. The agenda should be that of the Lodge’s on a whole, executed by the Lodge. When this happens, the Lodge sings, Masonry’s heart beats, and the system designed by our ancient brethren works as intended.

When the Craft is engaged within their Lodge, all egos left outside, personal agendas shelved… this is when a Lodge grows. It grows in Brotherhood, Education, Health, and Membership. When all members of the Lodge realize that their attendance and participation is needed and they put forth the effort to meet that need the culture and impact of Freemasonry can flourish.

Effect On The Masonic Body

With an active Lodge, dues are paid. Not a lot can be accomplished by wishing we could afford a lecturer, pay for our building, pay our Grand Lodge dues, provide meals to our membership and the visitors we welcome. As crass and boorish as this sounds and as much as a Brother might complain about the costs incurred with membership, these are not arbitrary nor are they meant to build wealth. 

You see? The Lodge takes care of its membership. At least, that’s the design. Scholarships are provided to assist those seeking to further their academic education, financial aid is provided to Brothers who fall on hard times, Widows and Orphans of Masons are tended to and taken care of, and all of these things cost money even right down to the meals that are served.

Masonry hasn’t kept with the times and raised its dues according to inflation. If a Brother is engaged in Masonry, they see the value, they experience the worth, and they do not hesitate to see that Freemasonry is taken care of. 

What Happens With Failure

In a horrible, horrible world where the Masonic Body isn’t engaged and refuses to take responsibility for their participation, the Lodge withers and dies. It ceases to function with the decline in active membership. It ceases to grow when its Brothers aren’t participating in each others’ education. The temple building crumbles as much as the spiritual building of the members. Eventually, Freemasonry dies.

Egos, personal agendas, shortsightedness, personal misgivings… there can always be an excuse if the individual fails to put to practice what he is being taught in Freemasonry. 

The Top

Benefits To The Lodge

As you have probably sussed out, the top refers to the Worshipful Master. Here’s the rub. The Worshipful Master is not the guy who does it all. The Worshipful Master is the gentleman who pulls everything together, the maestro of the orchestra. He’s the one who calls the Craft to Labor and sets them to Refreshment again but the plan comes from the membership. 

A strong Worshipful Master is capable of leading the discussion and helping the Craft to figure out what the agenda is. He is a communicator, which includes listening as well as speaking. He is a man who is concerned about the welfare of his Lodge, the happiness and satisfaction of his Brothers, and the growth of Freemasonry. He is all of the parts of each officer seat and embodies the Spirit of Freemasonry

When this Worshipful Master sits in the East, the Lodge comes together. Each man is made to feel heard and important. Each officer is confidently empowered to perform their duties. And though there may be the occasional hiccup, the Lodge is confident in its elected and assigned leadership that the problem will be resolved as it should, Masonically.

It is in this seat that the intentions of the Lodge are carried out and when there is confidence from the Body in the Worshipful Master, there can be unity.

Effect On The Masonic Body

Freemasonry is represented by the whole of the Craft in any given area and by the individual on a more personal level. Day-to-day interactions between the Masonic Body and the Worshipful Master control the ebb and flow of Masonic Life. Positive and knowledgable Masters are boons to our way of life and act as infusions of spirit. Selfless Masters stimulate thought and action within the entire body of Freemasonry. Where ego is not a factor, we flourish as a Masonic Body. Free-thinkers are not meant to be tethered but are desirous of being led without bindings to higher planes of thought and greater deeds.

What Happens With Failure

Without a strong leader with a deep knowledge of Masonry, the Lodge will suffer. Let’s also not forget that he is required to dedicate an unbelievable amount of time to the well-being of the Lodge and should the individual find himself unable to fulfill this requirement… Well, as the ringleader, the Worshipful Master needs everyone to play their part or the Master’s time at the top is really quite miserable.

A Master’s failure is the Lodge’s failure and vice versa. But when a Master fails in their role specifically, the waters become rough for the entire Lodge. Progress falters and people stumble.

The Past

Benefits To The Lodge

Past Masters are treasures in the Lodge when they are present and active provided they operate within certain parameters. Too often a Past Master is a limitation rather than a resource. The image of a grumpy past master is all too familiar to officers who are corrected in their ritual, lectures, floorwork, or staff/rod work. Too often a Past Master is quick to admonish with those dreadful and deflating words of, “Because we’ve always done it that way.”

When a Past Master looks for opportunities to put their knowledge and experience to work promoting positive instruction under the Worshipful Master’s guidance as well as in assisting the Worshipful Master through his first year, they are truly acting from the position as it was intended. In being ready and willing to assist the Worshipful Master and fellow Masons in their questions while not standing in the way of progress, the Past Master becomes an asset instead of a limitation.

A Lodge with many Past Masters never lacks in someone who can fill in for an absent officer and thus they experience stability. When a Past Master acts as an advisor carrying their selfless service from the East to their honorific, they help stimulate progress. 

Effect On The Masonic Body

Past Masters often continue their journey East by progressing to serve in the Grand Lodge and it is within this position that they can potentially have the greatest impact on the Masonic Body. Again, here, the Past Master must tread a fine line between being capable of protecting the tenets and landmarks of Freemasonry that deserve protecting and getting behind initiatives that promote the progressive development of the Work within the jurisdiction.

With the right people in these positions, Masonry can flourish. Freemasonry is still capable of developing the greatest minds, the most successful people, and furthering the most beneficial philosophies Mankind knows and will know. Past Masters are key to these things coming to pass. 

What Happens With Failure

When a Past Master fails, they become a roadblock for Freemasonry. Too many Past Masters believe their duties to include holding staunch to all of the edicts and by-laws of our Masonic forefathers without consideration for the future of the Order. Either that or they are fearful that by moving forward and leaving dusty rules and antiquated traditions behind, they are failing Freemasonry. Either way, they end up truly failing what used to be a birthing ground for the best of men in all ages. Their inability to allow Freemasonry to move ahead of the times strangles the Institution whereas their ability to protect the valuable education, purpose, and meanings while championing momentum-building actions will feed the Craft. 

Summary 

Details of duties and responsibilities for each position discussed in this article are easy enough to find which is why I didn’t include them. If there’s one thing I hope you get out of this article, it’s that everyone needs to do their part. Everyone. Without full participation from each and every Brother—whether they are in the Body of the Lodge, seated as an officer, or a Past Master—there is no Lodge, no Jurisdiction, and no Freemasonry unless we all do our part.

If I’ve missed anything or you disagree, please feel free to comment, and Brothers… Participate. Be a reason for your Lodge’s success, not a reason for its failure, and flourish with your Brothers! 

 

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