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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 east.

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.


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 investment.

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.


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:

  • Anniversaries:
    • Lodge Charter 25-50-75-100
  • Birthdays:
    • Oldest Member
    • Mason of the Year
    • Master
  • 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 entertainment
  • Educational programs:
    • Masonic Leadership Training
    • Schools for Degree Instruction
  • Committeemen's Appreciation Night
  • Installation of Officers (Open to the public or closed?)
  • Dinners:
    • Father and Son
    • Father and Daughter
    • Family
    • Distinguished Person
  • Past Master's Night
  • Plays-Masonic
  • St. John's Day-Table Lodge
  • Sweetheart's Night


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 worthy Brothers.


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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Last modified: March 22, 2014