Planning Your Year As Master
by Torence Evans Ake W.P.M.
Arcadia Masonic Lodge #1138 A.F. &. A.M.
Note from the writer:
I hope that you found this document a useful tool for a rising officer. If
you are approaching your year as Master, I commend your efforts and wish you
happiness and success in all your endeavors. If you are not now an officer, I
encourage you to take the necessary action to get involved. It will be an
experience which you will long remember and one which lends invaluable skills
which will always serve you well in life.
It wasn't too long ago that I had the privilege of sitting in the East. It
was a fascinating, instructive and rewarding journey through the various chairs.
One which few have the opportunity to travel; and, occasionally, if the
membership agrees, can be repeated. The best approach to any under- taking,
especially one of this magnitude, involves careful thought and planning. To this
end this document will attempt to put into perspective the scope of the project
which a rising officer must accomplish and assist in laying the groundwork for
the thought processes which must be completed to make for a successful year in
The qualifications to hold office are the same qualifications which a man has
shown in becoming a Mason. By completing the degree work and catechisms he has
demonstrated the ability to successfully interact with his fellow Brethren, an
understanding and respect for the work of the Craft, and a desire to complete
the task work essential to assisting the Great Architect in erecting that
spiritual building, the house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.
There are no set and inflexible rules to being a good lodge officer. Every
man is comprised of various traits. Personality, skill and devotion to duty will
serve him well as an officer, but there are no steadfast rules to measure in
what proportion these various talents will come into play. A man should work to
develop certain aspects of his character no matter what undertaking he is
currently engaged in. The strengthening of these skills will enhance his
self-esteem and provide the basis of success in all his endeavors.
Energy-This essential characteristic defines a man as a self-motivator and a
good Master will look for it not only in himself but in the other officers and
Brethren around him who will do the work of the ritual and committees. When it
is found, work to channel it in a positive and constructive manner. Too often,
Vanity, which our lessons encourage us to subdue, focuses this powerful element
in the wrong direction leading to disharmony, dissatisfaction and the
destruction of the most beneficial plan. When it is used to support a well
designed trestleboard, however, every Brother will benefit from its use. It will
serve the Master in accomplishing the objectives of his year.
Confidence-Along with energy this characteristic will inspire those involved
in the taskwork to realize and accomplish their goals. Have it as an integral
element in the work that you do, infect others around you as you perform your
duties, it is a most satisfying disease.
Desire-One who desires to be effective and useful is also one who will reject
failure. With the proper desire to succeed the Master and his Officers will
project the strength and enthusiasm necessary to get the job done.
Concern-The Master's ability to involve others is directly related to the
concern that he has for the welfare of his constituent Brethren. Too often
Masters neglect the needs of his worthy companions and the result is that they
may not share the proper concern for the work at hand. Concern for others is an
essential quality not only for a Master and his Officers but for the Brethren
who have been recommended and raised as Master Masons. When the Master
demonstrates his care for the Brother's welfare, he can expect their concern and
participation in his programs in return.
Morality- No matter what an adult may endeavor to perform in his life, ethics
will play an integral part towards achieving success. Without morality, a man
will be unsure of himself and a poor leader. Every great plan needs a solid
foundation for it to become meaningful, and failure to recognize this critical
element will cause the most ambitious plans to fail.
Faith-Again, the most successful Masters look for faith within themselves and
flowing from those around them. One must have this quality in himself, in those
that he associates with, and most important of all Faith in God.
PLANNED PROGRAMS PAY OFF
Usually, a Master can expect to have a rewarding year when he has taken the
time and effort to look ahead and put his thoughts on paper. There is no limit
on when he should do so. If he waits until he is Senior Warden, he may loose
valuable opportunities to lay the groundwork with the people he needs to
accomplish all of his objectives. This point is critical and so often otherwise
good officers get so involved in learning ritual and performing the immediate
needs of their lodges they fail to look ahead to these critical objectives.
There are many benefits to a planned approach. Such as:
LODGE FUNDS-can be spent more judiciously with greater return for the
ATTENDANCE-the time to start insuring a healthy attendance at your meetings
as Master is now. Look around you and see that every Brother knows that he is
welcome and a valuable asset to you as an officer. Inspire new candidates to
complete their work and get involved.
COMMITTEES-Often Masters leave Deacons and Stewards out of the picture when
it comes to operating committees. Though I don't recommend relying on the junior
officers to make them run( they often have their hands full performing their
required duties and learning ritual) make sure that they know that they are
welcome at the committee meetings and should learn who they can count on to make
their committees run when they are in the East.
MEMBERS-as with attendance, be sensitive to the membership's personal
requirements so that when there is a future program they can be prepared to make
the time to attend. Annual events such as Christmas parties, picnics, and Lodge
Visitations can be scheduled years ahead of time. Normally, the more notice that
you give the better the response.
LOCAL TALENT- occasionally Lodges go outside their membership to perform the
scheduled events. For example, most Scottish Rite organizations offer free
speakers which can attend Friend's Night programs etc. Start cultivating the
necessary relationships as soon as possible so that you will have the support
that you need when you preside in the East.
PEACE OF MIND- The greatest benefit that will be gained by forward thinking
is the knowledge that you will have everything that it takes to get the job done
when the need arises. Having planned ahead you will enter your year as Master
knowing full well that you have fulfilled the responsibilities of leadership,
leaving nothing to confusion or last minute judgments.
WRITING THE CALENDAR
Hopefully by now your mind is already working in the direction of deciding
what kind of Master you would like to be and what kind of Master would benefit
your lodge the most. Around you are many sources of information to aid you in
planning your calendar and you will do well in whatever chair you are at to
project ahead and begin to put your year on paper. Your first source will be the
by-laws of your Lodge which will specify the frequency and requirements of the
Stated meetings which are essential to the way that the Lodge functions. Other
sources for the rising Officer to own will include the Grand Lodge Constitution,
Laws relating to the Grand Lodge, and Laws relating to the Lodges. This can be
obtained from your Secretary via the Grand Lodge of your local Jurisdiction. If
your jurisdiction also offers a Handbook for Officers, Book of Ceremonials, or
Masonic Monitor, obtain these as well. They will assist you immeasurably when
you are in the East.
Once you have delegated the necessary meeting times on your calendar for
those events required by Masonic law, it is time to look at those events
traditionally held in your temple that you may choose to carry on. This may
include, seasonal parties (religious or otherwise), past master's nights,
friends nights, or others. Remember, their success, should you elect to repeat
them in your year, will depend upon your soliciting the proper involvement now.
Know who you can count on to carry these programs through. They will appreciate
the recognition for the job well-done this year and most likely surpass their
accomplishments with the experience they gained this time around.
Here is a list of some suggested programs:
- Lodge Charter 25-50-75-100
- Oldest Member
- Mason of the Year
- Charter Member Night
- Grand Lodge Visitation Night:
- Grand Master
- Grand Officer(s)
- Investigation Night:
- How to visit a petitioner
- Mock Investigation
- Exchange Visitation Night
- Landmarks of Freemasonry
- Pastor's Night
- Friends Night:
- Invite a Non-mason and/or his family for a little info and
- Educational programs:
- Masonic Leadership Training
- Schools for Degree Instruction
- Committeemen's Appreciation Night
- Installation of Officers (Open to the public or closed?)
- Father and Son
- Father and Daughter
- Distinguished Person
- Past Master's Night
- St. John's Day-Table Lodge
- Sweetheart's Night
WHEN USING GUEST SPEAKERS
Keep in mind that often guest speakers give freely of their time and skill in
an effort to make your night special and successful. Common courtesy demands
that some effort on the Master's part is essential to make the guest's time
meaningful and worthwhile and insure that they are willing to return again when
needed. It should be the duty of some Brother (appointed by the Master if not
himself) to be certain that the attending visitor has proper and clear
directions to the temple. Once he arrives it should be the duty of some officer
to personally greet the speaker and take charge that he is properly introduced
to the members and Master and escorted to the proper meeting place. That officer
should inquire if the visitor has any special needs such as equipment or
specific seating requirements. When conducting the meeting assure that all
unnecessary taskwork is eliminated from the program and that the membership
gives him their undivided attention during the presentation. He should be
properly announced when he is presented, giving not only his name, but his
connection to Masonry and where he is from. Courtesy to invited speakers is long
remembered just as poor manners are seldom forgotten.
The Past Masters of your Lodge have historically lent great care in passing
the assets of the lodge into the hands of the current officers. Proper
management of these funds shows due respect for their efforts as well as a
concern for the future welfare of the brethren and a good Master will administer
his programs in a financially responsible manner. To do so, each officer needs
to take the time to understand how the income management of his lodge is
undertaken. The functions of the Secretary and Treasurer are essential to both
the health and accountancy of the institution. They are a fine source of
information for the rising officer. Review the Past years' financial reports.
They will breakdown receipts (i.e. membership dues, candidates fees,
contributions and other) as well as disbursements (i.e. candidate's presentation
articles, degree equipment, building expenses, charitable contributions, etc.).
Further, they will lend the advancing officer a clear picture of the
responsibility of his function as a Master. Often in schools etc. the rising
officer forgets the duty we owe to widows and orphans as well as our needy
NOW YOU CAN LOOK AT YOUR YEAR
Hopefully, this document has led you to look ahead at the chair in the East
with a new perspective. Ask yourself what kind of Master you intend to be
remembered as and start organizing the taskwork ahead. Select the events for
your year and look around at the other developing officers to select the best
assistants. Aid those above and below you in line to make their year successful
and encourage sideliners and new candidates to participate. Write your calendar
and a budget realizing that both will need to be further refined and developed
as your time in the East approaches. Pull together the necessary resources both
in the membership around you and from within yourself. But most of all, make
your year in the East one that counts in a positive way for the good of
Freemasonry and the Brethren.
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