[Last night, I received private e-mails from several brethren — whom I honestly haven’t met in person but am glad to be able to exchange fraternal grips with via this virtual space.
They asked me the following questions: A) How long is the tenure of the Master? B) How should a Master govern his lodge? and C) How should a Master govern the Brethren?
First let me emphasize firmly that the author possesses no legitimate authority over what one should or should not do to properly govern a lodge. However, with the gift of free will and discernment, I can — as all of us could — opine an essay based completely on experience and extensive research.
The following is my response.]
NORMALLY, with the exception of some lodges where inactivity or scarcity of members is the main crisis, the Master of a lodge is given a year to rule. In certain cases, however, lodges that have dwindling rosters extend his tenure to another year or two until someone deserving (eligible and willing) is elected to assume the post.
Whatever the Master will do during his term, however he will rise to the challenges of his office and whatever way he sees fitting to deliver triumphs to his lodge shall be the defining moment of his life as both a leader and a brother Mason.
That whole year tests his ability to lead, his capability to inspire and generate participation and support, and capacity to formulate wise decisions to make his plans happen. That, in essence, illustrates the very meaning of leadership.
It is indeed a gargantuan task to become a Master. For not only is the interest and welfare of the lodge that are confided to his charge, but also and most importantly, that binding duty of preserving the dignity of the Oriental chair which he swore to protect under his keep.
Thus, a Master must always keep an open mind. He must not succumb to pride, yield to anger or envy, or give in to gossips, intrigues or conspiracies that will poison his judgment. He must be extremely cautious in the company he keeps for oftentimes he will be surrounded by a flock of sheeps, as well as the pack of wolves.
The Master must likewise be assiduous and attentive to the feelings and thoughts of his brethren.
“The duties incumbent upon you in your exalted station are fraught with grave responsibilities,” the Installing Master lectures during the Installation Ceremony. “Remember that the honor, reputation, and usefulness of your Lodge will materially depend upon the skill and assiduity with which you manage its concerns, and that the happiness of its members will be generally promoted in proportion to the watchful care with which you cherish the genuine principles of our Institution.”
“For a pattern of imitation, consider the great luminary of nature, which rising in the East, regularly diffuses light and luster to all within its circle,” the Installing Master continues.
“In like manner, it is your province to spread and communicate light and instruction to the Brethren of your Lodge. Forcibly impress upon them the dignity and high importance of Masonry; and seriously admonish them never to disgrace it. Charge them to practice out of the Lodge those duties which they have been taught in it; and by amiable, discreet and virtuous conduct, to convince mankind of the goodness of this Institution.”
And finally, the Installing Master emphasizes in a short but extremely meaningful prose what all Freemasons must remind themselves of and turn into: “So that when a person is said to be a member of it, the world may know that he is one to whom the burdened heart may pour out its sorrows; one to whom distress may prefer its suit; one whose hand is guided by justice, and whose heart is expanded by benevolence.”
The Gavel symbolizes the enormous power of the Master. With it he governs his lodge and its welfare and prosperity, in a great measure, depend upon its judicious use. In the hands of the Master, it may be made the instrument of great good, or of greater evil.
When time ticks on the final hour, how he had been as both a leader and a brother can only be gauged by how he shall be remembered — whether with lasting respect or downright contempt, only time knows.