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masonic matters

The Future of Masonry?

by Ed Halpaus
Grand Lodge Education Officer
Grand Lodge of A. F. & A. M. of Minnesota

“Growth means change and change involves risk, stepping from the known to the unknown.” George Shinn

“Patience in the present, faith in the future, and joy in the doing.” George Perera

The Future of Masonry?

Most of the time these articles are strictly about Masonic Education; to me education is to cause us to think as wells to learn. With that, there may be times when we should think about things that we ought to think about instead of what we would prefer to think about.

The result of a good education and right thinking leads to action – positive proactive action.

In business some years ago it was popular for a job interviewer to ask the applicant where he saw himself in five years. It was a good question, but hearing the answers to the question was much better and telling. Possibly we could ask ourselves similar questions, not about ourselves but, about our Lodges. Maybe those answers would also be interesting and telling.

Where do you see your Lodge 5 years from now?

What about 10 or 20 years from now?

What kind of a Lodge will it be, what do you envision it looking like as far as membership is concerned?

How about its solvency?

Will its members be proficient in the conferring of degrees, are they now?

I hope when each of us thinks these kinds of questions relating to our Lodges and the future it will be a rosy picture. One way to gauge what the future will be like is to view the past, and then ask a question: If my Lodge continues for the next five to 10 years the way it has been continuing this past 5 or 10 years what kind of a Lodge will it be? Will it be at all?

One can wonder why we should spend any time at all in thoughts like this, because there are times when these thoughts aren’t as pleasant as we would like them to be, but it is a fact that your Lodge, and my Lodge, and indeed all of our Lodges are the future of Freemasonry in our respective jurisdictions, and collectively the future of Freemasonry around the world.

After thinking about those questions maybe we, individually, can think about what we, individually, are willing and able to do to help change the future for our Lodge. One thing is for sure – the future of our Lodges will involve changes, and each of us will have an effect on the changes our Lodges experiences: The big question for me is; will my actions have a positive or negative influence in the changes my Lodge experiences?

Masons who are in all of our Grand Lodge positions in our various jurisdictions are aware of the importance of the constituent Lodges in each jurisdiction: They know the future of the craft lies with them, (the Masons in every Lodge,) not with the relatively few Masons who serve as elected and appointed officers of a Grand Lodge. It is all of our individual Lodges who will determine the future of the craft. That’s why I ask, “what does your Lodge’s future look like to you?’ If it looks great, congratulations! The members of your Lodge over the years have obviously been doing the right things and doing them right. If you Lodge’s future doesn’t look so great to you then maybe it’s time to think about making some changes, to change that future.

I’ve heard a couple of phrases over the years that have always intrigued me enough to think about them because they seem to convey opposite thoughts. One is that when change comes from the top that’s called leadership, when it comes from the bottom up that’s called revolution. The other phrase says that all real and lasting change comes from the bottom up. This last phrase I have heard a lot in Freemasonry, while the former phrase seems to be popular in business. To me I think these phrases aren’t necessarily such a dichotomy, especially if we think about the top differently. If the top is leadership, which I believe it is, maybe we should view leadership with a paradigm that is different from the way some might view it.

Reverend Mac Hammond, in a recent message on leadership, said that leadership could be compared to a game of tennis – meaning that he who serves well seldom loses. He also said that all books on leadership tell us ‘if you want to lead, you must learn to serve.’ Rev. Hammond, being a Christian Minister, tells us that Matthew 12:11 has told all students of the Bible this; “The Greatest among you will be your servant.” This is explained in Study Bibles; leadership, (greatness,) comes from serving, and serving keeps us aware of other’s needs; a leader needs to keep the needs and well being of his followers in mind at all times, and a good leader knows it’s not about him, it’s about the mission. A good Masonic leader knows this too, it’s about the future of the Craft – That’s the mission.

To me when I think of change coming from the top I think of a democracy. The set-up of a grand lodge seems very similar to the set-up of a federal government – deriving its power from the governed – The United States is made up of States populated by us who are called constituents. We are the constituents of our Lodges too. And our Grand Lodges are empowered by the Constituent Lodges in that particular jurisdiction.

So if we view our Lodges and Grand Lodge as us, (instead of ‘them;’ the officers of the Lodge or Grand Lodge,) carrying out the wishes and desires of the members of the constituent Lodges, when communicated in Lodge as such, by considering and voting, I think the changes in our Lodges and Grand Lodges are from the Top, not from the bottom, and certainly not a revolution.

When it comes to the future of Masonry it is up to us. We can’t afford to leave it up to the officers of our Lodges and Grand Lodges – they need our support and help.

“Your life changes the moment you make a new, congruent, and committed decision.” Anthony Robbins

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Last modified: March 22, 2014