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by Bro. H. H. Astbury

One of the most critical problems facing us today is the question of Leadership.  In Government, business, and homes, we experience a sense of well-being or conversely - doubts, turmoil, and frustration, depending upon the degree of this elusive quality that happens to be present.

The same is true within the Lodge with this one exception - if leadership is lacking in our society, or our home, or our work, that fact cannot readily be avoided.  If it is lacking within our lodges, it an be avoided by members simply staying home from meetings, and not participating in lodge activities, and in some cases, taking their demit.

We are quick to place the blame for poor attendance on other factors - too much leisure - time activity to compete against, too much pressure of work, too many other commitments.

All we need to do is to exhibit some leadership in the process.

What do we mean by leadership?  What is leadership?

There have been as many definitions perhaps, as there have been leaders. One military definition refers to Leadership as "the art of motivating others to achieve the aim" . . . so leadership is an art.  It is something that can be learned, as skill that can be acquired.  It is not a case of "some of us having it and some not".  It's something Mr. Average Man can have if he wants it or needs it badly enough.

What else?  Motivating others! . . . so the Leaders is not a one-man band.  The good leader is the orchestrator, the conductor of the symphony. He relies upon the abilities and the readiness of others to take part, and make a necessary contribution.  He cannot do everything himself, he needs help and support.  How about this?  Achieving the aim!  Now there's a mouthful for you.  With every leader there is an accomplishment to gain; there is a goal to reach.  There is something to strive for and it becomes the job of the leader to know those goals, and to help others know and want them badly enough that, as a team, they can achieve them.

What are our goals in Freemasonry?  Certainly the ritual and the symbolism set out the ultimate objectives of the order, but it is the impact of the various leaders that ultimately determine how or in some cases whether, those Goals can or will be attained.  So perhaps it is the task of individual lodges, or Masters, to set objectives on a yearly basis within the terms of reference of our overall purpose, as a mark to strive for.

Now it's very difficult for a Leader, a Master, for example, to motivate others if no one turns out to motivate.  We are all familiar with the old adage, "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink".  Well believe me, that horse will never get a drink if you fence him off from the trough, or if, when he gets there, the trough is dry.

What kinds of answers do you get when you ask a Mason why he doesn't attend Lodge?  Have you heard any of these recently?

"It's dull and boring sitting through the same old meeting month after month with nothing new."

"I don't find I'm accomplishing anything", or "Unless a person is prepared to accept an office there's nothing for him to do at Lodge".

If these sound familiar, or if you hear other criticisms, they can be clues to setting the aim, or goals of your lodge.  Put something in the trough!

Those of you who have visited other lodges occasionally, realize that each Lodge has a distinctive image or flavor to it.  Where leadership is evident the lodge will be active, the goals will be there.  Some lodges might focus on social activities, some on the quality of ritual work, others on visitation and fraternal relations, for example.  The important thing is not necessarily what those goals are, but the fact that they are; they exist: the lodge has a purpose.

Brethren, there is no magic in leadership.  There is a plain prescription that can be followed by those willing to work at it:

    Determine Your Goals;
    Make Them Known;
    Draw Up a Plan to Aim for their Achievement;
    Involve Others.  Give as many as possible a "piece of the action".
    Commit yourself to achieving those goals and stick to it until the job is done.

Determine your goals by an analysis of what you feel is wrong with your lodge. Not enough candidates?  Why not?  Poor attendance?  Why?  Too many dropouts? For what reasons?

What do we offer our membership in return for their time and dues?  What are our alternatives?  What programs can we establish?

Having set our goals, make them known.  Put an insert into your Lodge Bulletin.  Get a phoning and visiting committee working.  Pull, prod, cajole, and wheedle people to get out to lodge.  When they get there, make it a pleasure for them, they'll want to come back.

Give them something to do; preferably something they will enjoy doing. Make them a part of the lodge; help them want to be a part of the lodge. Use their talents.  People like their abilities to be recognized.

And remember, if the Master and his officers are committed and enthusiastic, that enthusiasm will be contagious, and will carry through the lodge and its activities.

Your officers are your future leaders.  They are training for the Chair of Solomon, by systematically taking  additional responsibility each year, as they progress toward the East.  So give them your support, and offer them your help and assistance as they might require it, and you will have a strong, healthy and vital lodge.

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Last modified: March 22, 2014