There are various lists circulating the Internet. Some of these lists are ridiculous, some are meant for humor, and some really provide valuable information. One list, How To Grow And Strengthen Your Lodge, is of particular note to Freemasons and it is this list of ideas that I’m going to elaborate upon. I know not where the list originated so I am unable to give proper credit, but I’m grateful for the creator.
There are twenty-five bulleted items on this list. Some may allow for a deeper dive while others might be self-explanatory. Either way, as a Freemason, no matter the degree or appendant body, these items should be of particular interest to you for without the Blue Lodge, Masonry ceases to exist as an organization.
- Attend as many meetings and functions as possible. I have a job that requires a lot of meetings, Church requires meeting attendance, and there are other responsibilities in a person’s life that require your derriere to be planted in a seat while someone reports on, or discusses the need for, or petitions in a meeting setting. I’ve told people that the last thing I want to do is sit in another meeting and I’ve certainly heard others say the same thing. I’ve even seen the Internet meme going around that shows George Washington standing before a group wearing his Masonic apron with the words, He didn’t join to listen to the minutes being read, prominently displayed across the image.
Unfortunately, without the stated meeting, the Lodge would not grow and could not conduct business. As a Master Mason, you are obligated to attend barring requirements put on you by your vocation as outlined in the Entered Apprentice Charge. Without your attendance, you’re leaving the direction of the Lodge in other’s hands and whether you believe it or not, your vote matters. Masonry is about Brotherhood, right? Developing relationships with your Brothers by attending meetings and events is the only way you can truly participate in the Brotherhood aspect of the Institution. A Lodge thrives when its membership attends meetings and events, so make sure you’re there and make sure you participate.
- Show up early, stay late. There’s a whole lot of action that takes place before and after meetings and events. Show up, spend time in discussion with your Brothers. Laugh, joke around, and further develop that bond.
- Support and participate. We have the ability to communicate digitally but even that can often be overlooked. We all have responsibilities and there are times where something will pop up in our lives that require our attention. But if we don’t support the desired direction of the Craft and we don’t participate then we not only suffer for our lack of activity but our Brothers suffer for a lack of your involvement.
- Read, study, learn, drill, discuss, teach, grow, and improve. Too many Men begin their journeys with an unclear direction of where to go with their studies, who to converse with to learn more, etc. Your Lodge depends on you to be a part of every Candidate’s progress through their degrees. You are always part of the team and the need for you to continue your education is extremely high. Volunteer to be a coach to help candidates through their catechisms, work on committees, and set personal goals to keep yourself educated.
- Be prepared! Be off-book. Know the ritual and duties of three chairs: learn the one above you; know the one you occupy, and know the one subordinate to you.
- Strengthen the chain. Commit to improving the lives of every officer and Brother you meet. Keep in mind that you’ve elected most of these individuals to office and your support makes it possible for them to perform the duties of that seat. Help them in their tasks, be available, and keep them uplifted.
- Live Masonry outside and inside the Lodge, 24/7 – 365. You represent Freemasonry to so many people whether you recognize it or not. Represent the Order well.
- Accept an office. Take a role. Volunteer. Do your best! There are all kinds of opportunities to serve within a Lodge. From assisting the Stewards and cooking meals to serving on committees or being a coach. Be someone your Lodge can count on.
- Roll up your sleeves. Help out! Stay humble. Give back. The very first thing to realize with Freemasonry is that you get out of it what you put into it. This is not hyperbole. This is a very real truth. You learn through service to your Lodge and the Community. You gain a greater understanding of the Truths spoken in that Great Trestleboard upon which is inscribed the revealed Word of God. You further become a better man by performing the Work and earning Wages.
- Abandon all ego and foolish pride. I am grateful for the ability of my Brothers who are able to do this. We all have skills, abilities, and accomplishments that mean a great deal to us and I encourage you to offer these things to your Lodge. But remember to leave your pride outside. Too often a man develops an agenda and when that agenda fails, or when he experiences opposition to that agenda, his outlook is soured. To stir up trouble and strife for the sake of one’s own ego or because you wish to see things happen in a certain way or timeframe is to damage your own spirit and those of your Brothers. Abandon all ego and foolish pride.
- Invite and involve candidates and Brethren alike. Encourage them to take ownership of the Lodge and their journey. Help the candidates to see the path and be there at the waypoints. The Lodge belongs to all members. Assist them in realizing this and becoming more involved in the direction and the outcome. As a member, reach out to your Brothers and Candidates, be the inviting smile and the brotherly hand that encourages them in their growth.
- Avoid the rumor mill. Avoid gossip. This is where harm against another Mason is done more commonly than any physical harm. Remember that you’ve sworn an oath to never hurt another Mason and do not participate in such reprehensible actions. Build trust and faith in your Brothers by showing strength in your oaths.
- Build on the Strengths of others. Encourage passion and new ideas. All too often we see excited minds close down and turn to other interests when their ideas aren’t taken into consideration and their adoration for the Order is dismissed. Those with tenure need to cultivate these sparks for without them, the Flame of Freemasonry will dwindle and the influx of new blood will dry. We hold our Landmarks close to our hearts as we should but we are an organization of free-thinkers and minds like ours cannot flourish in a confined box.
- All hands on deck! Many hands make light work. Whether we’re talking about setting up for an event or cleaning up after one, being a coach for new candidates or participating in investigation committees, and working on and upkeeping the temple building or participating as an officer, if this work is being executed by the same people time and time again, resentment can build. Get involved! Be one of those that provides active, working hands.
- Never speak negatively about an Officer or a Committee Member. A task that may be harder than it seems, especially when you have different ideas of how something should have been handled; this item is a duty of a Mason. Remember the words, Coming under a tongue of good report (or repute)? You are being taught to keep a tongue of good report and in doing so, you avoid negative speech. If you have a problem with an officer or committee member, remember that you are a man and men sort things out with one another. If all else fails, that’s when you approach the Senior Warden or Worshipful Master.
- Build up the officers and committee members to the Brethren. As I stated in bullet 15, it is your duty to speak with a tongue of good report. Where you can, build up the officers and committee members when speaking of them so that all may view the leadership in a good light. Contentious opinions sour the air and poison hearts whereas positive outlooks lift and bolster.
- Pay your dues in advance. Donate often. I’ve heard too much complaining in my career as a Mason about “nickel and diming” or “always asking for more money” and to be frank, this is a very selfish and un-Masonic outlook. Charity begins in the Lodge, my Brothers and how are we supposed to take care of our temple building, repair aprons, provide solid meals, bring in great educators, add to our libraries, etc. if we, as a body, are too miserly to readily and willingly donate to the cause? In cases where you are financially tight, donate time, speak with the Worshipful Master, and make sure you are understood. Do not gripe and complain about a financial burden.
Avoid being one of the numbers that the secretary has to chase down to collect your dues. This is inherently wrong of a Mason and less the action of a Man. Pay your dues in advance, set up a monthly donation so you have your next year’s dues covered before that year is upon us. In doing so you strengthen the Lodge’s financial standings and make it more possible for great events, good food, and excellent programs to exist.
- Treat each other like family with the highest regard, esteem, and respect. It is fine to joke with one another provided the joke is understood but to cultivate an atmosphere within the Lodge that men will look forward to being a part of, you must be no respecter of persons. Meaning, speak without leaving profanities fouling the air, no matter the opinions that have been expressed which are contrary to yours wither inside or without the Lodge, you are speaking with a Brother and they are due your respect. A Lodge is where all Brothers should feel welcome and no one’s preference takes precedence. After all, we meet upon the level.
- Plan, practice, preserve, and persevere. A few bullets ago I promoted the acceptance of new ideas and the concept of massaging free-thinking. Here I am promoting the value in preserving the Landmarks, ceremonies, and rituals of the art. You do this by practicing your ritual, memorizing your catechisms, and truly studying the meaning behind the words and symbols.
Put effort into planning events and meetings. Make them something worth attending instead of just reading the minutes or just practicing the floorwork. Persevere in your studies and putting to practice the teachings of Freemasonry.
- Lead by example. Be the change you wish to see in the Lodge. If the Lodge isn’t moving in the direction you’d like it to move, work in concert with your Lodge Brothers while showing how the changes you are suggesting could also be of benefit. You are responsible for your own actions, thoughts, and words. Show others how it is to be done.
- Ask not what Freemasonry can do for you, but what you can do for Freemasonry. One of the greatest casualties of Freemasonry is when a Brother declares that Freemasonry no longer does anything for them—no longer provides any benefit to them. To put it bluntly, this is a very selfish and ignorant outlook. It is one thing to state that you no longer wish to contribute to Freemasonry, but to claim that the Institution has failed you… well, that’s quite impossible seeing how Freemasonry is about self-growth. You gain by serving. You learn by acting. You become a better man through your application of the lessons taught through Freemasonry. All of these things involve you putting yourself in the service of the Order, not the other way around.
- Follow the Code: The Great Lights, The Obligations, Charges, Old Charges, Ancient Landmarks, Trial Code, Grand Lodge Code, By-Laws, Monitors, Ceremonies, Lectures, and several Rituals of Freemasonry should be your constant guide, your modus operandi, and your standards of operating procedures. If you disagree, don’t just dismiss them and make up your own rules; study the Code and take the proper steps within the proper venue to make the changes you wish to make.
- Be positive. Never see a situation as impossible. Accept the challenge, overcome every obstacle, and produce positive results that benefit everyone.
- Embody due order and decorum. Follow proper protocol and etiquette. Avoid private conversations during degrees and meetings. These actions show that you respect the art and your Brothers. If you’re wondering about etiquette, review your Etiquette Manual or ask a Brother when you aren’t in a meeting or degree. Know your responsibilities within any given role, dress appropriately, respect the jewels, staffs, and rods. Make every effort to show respect for the footwork and floorwork, and especially the signs and due guards.
- Never harbor piques or quarrels against any brother. Go to him, solve the issue, and make amends. Heal all wounds and strengthen the bond. This, my Brothers, is called being a Man and a Mason.
As you can tell, there are a number of ways that you can breathe life into your Lodge. As a Mason, these are all your responsibility and are part of the oaths and obligations you’ve taken upon yourself when you joined the Order.
What are some other ways you’ve found to help you breathe life into your Lodge?