Purpose and Need
Officers of the Lodge cannot count on the structure and policies of a company, yet must accomplish more than just management of the organization and its members. It is essential that Officers serving the Lodge be, or become, leaders. Beyond any personality traits or being designated as “in charge”, the Lodge Leader-Officers are the most visible cadre of Masons reflecting what Masonry is about for non-Mason visitors to the Lodge and in other public settings and also represent the backbone resources for the routine functions in operating the Lodge. Building on that, they constitute the collective leadership on which the Past Masters and other members of the Lodge should rely and which they should respect and admire. Therefore, it is inherent in the Lodge’s duty, as carried out by the Worshipful Master and all of his Officers, to see that every Mason serving as a Leader-Officer, or who wants to serve as an Officer, has every resource, opportunity and assistance to excel with confidence in those positions. This training, overall, should also serve progressively each Leader-Officer who so chooses to undertake the “Eastward Journey” to prepare for and demonstrate suitability for his potential election to serve as a principal and ultimately as Master of the Lodge. It is the mission of the Lodge Leader-Officer Development Training program to inspire, enable and support the Officers, in the course of each Masonic year, to collectively make the Lodge better, stronger, bigger, and more appreciated by its members and in its community than it was at the beginning of their year.
While this purpose and need, and the ideas presented here, are appropriate across the full scope of Lodges and Masonry, current circumstances make it even more important. Historically, Masons have had several years in Light before joining the line of Officers and plenty of opportunity to learn much about the practices and traditions of the Lodge, the rituals, and the duties of the Officers by observation and osmosis. With declining initiations throughout Masonry in recent years, those joining the line of Leader-Officers may have been Masons for only a few years. Therefore, a more structured and intense development of new and aspiring Leader-Officers is needed to accomplish the standards and ideals of Lodge functioning.
In order to reflect well on the Lodge, to earn the respect of all Lodge members and inspire them to contribute their own energy and attention to Masonry, the Leader-Officers must first be outstanding Masons. As such, a part of this training includes learning and practicing the rituals of opening and closing the Lodges, the exemplification of degrees and teaching the esoteric work. Of course, this knowledge and capability must extend to a broader circle of degree teams and instructors, but the Leader-Officer should serve, again, as examples and anchors of Masonic education and development as a conspicuous strength of the Lodge.
Each Leader-Officer has specific duties set forth officially from the Grand Lodge of Texas and from the by-laws, rules, and regulations and the mandates of the current Master of subordinate Lodges and those will be covered. Beyond that, seasoned Leader-Officers know and develop “best practices” by which certain Leader-Officers distinguish themselves. When Lodges want to not just sustain themselves but excel, it is important to institutionalize those best practices and make them the norm. It also makes it easier to operate the Lodge and serve its purposes internally and outwardly to the community.
The third major element of content for the training is personal and professional development. It is included in much of the Masonic writings that Masonry helps men become better men in their families, in their jobs and careers, and in their communities. Every Lodge is itself a fraternity, a structured association and a business with distinct operational needs and functions. The resources of the Lodge, and other parts of Masonry, can contribute a great deal more than dinner conversation. Participation as an Lodge Leader-Officer, or as a committee or project chair, is an excellent way to develop, practice and refine skills in leadership, organizing and planning, teamwork, public speaking, research and study habits, fundraising, information technology skills, and various administrative skills (budgets, reporting, team-building, delegation, etc). To the degree practical, all of those will be address.
Participation by all current Lodge Officers is mandatory. Masons who are identified as good candidates for future Officer positions, by the principal Officers for their respective years, will be invited to participate. Other Masons who want to be developed into candidates, are urged to participate. If resources and coordination capabilities will allow, additional Masons who just want to learn, and are not like to join the line, will be considered.
Every organized endeavor must have objectives to guide its activities and discern its success. That doesn’t mean every participant will achieve every objective and there is no “failing”. Masons who participate in the continuous Lodge Leader-Officer Development Training will hopefully look at it as an opportunity and a benefit in their own objectives and certainly not as a burden or source of stress. The spirit of the training will always be that we are all in this together, working together and helping each other at every step along the way. The objectives of the Lodge Leader-Officer Development Training are:
- Enable every Leader-Officer to effectively and confidently sit in, or pro tem, any role or place in opening and closing the Lodge
- Enable every Leader-Officer to effectively and confidently perform in an role in any of the degrees
- Enable every Leader-Officer to fulfill the duties of his position not just adequately but in a proficient and noteworthy or outstanding way
- Prepare every Leader-Officer for his serving in subsequent Officer positions
As a part of Masonic Education, the framing of the program and primary oversight are the responsibility of the Junior Warden, with the Senior Warden and Master also jointly responsible for defining content and operational characteristics and finding instructors and mentors from the Lodge, District or elsewhere within the Fraternity.
The program includes one or two 2-3 hour sessions per month on weekend days, featuring one or more discussion leaders and a good bit of roundtable group activity. Participants are also paired with a Past Master as a mentor for additional one-on-one communication, if requested. The Lodge’s communication and IT infrastructure provides some sustainability of the practices and accumulated knowledge over months and Masonic years. Beyond the direct training, identification of, and access to, Masonic training and developmental resources are provided.
Curriculum Topics (in no particular order; subject to revision)
- Identification and familiarization with all official Masonic publications, operational resources and educational resources as are covered in the ALL and LIFE programs, as well as their locations and availability in the Lodge or secretary offices
- Opening and closing all four Lodges
- Planning a Lodge meeting agenda and the contributions of Officers and members
- All sections of all degrees
- Esoteric work of all degrees
- Carrying out a Masonic burial service
- Overview of other Masonic bodies – what they are and how they operate
- Official duties of all Officers (in Lodge and ongoing)
- Focused coverage of best practices carried out by outstanding Leader-Officers (in Lodge and ongoing)
- Coordination and communication with the Grand Lodge
- Lodge Administration
- Special events typically included in the Masonic year and annual planning for the Lodge calendar
- Setting up the Lodge room for Lodge
- Attending to the building/facilities
- Use, storage and care of the Lodge’s accoutrements and regalia
- Use of the Lodge’s communication and IT resources, including content management of the website (under the supervision of the IT Committee), and the shared folders for storage of Lodge documents and IT tools
- Functioning of the standing and special committees of the Lodge
- Introducing Masonry to good men (what can be said and how to say it)
- Inviting, preparing and introducing a visiting non-Mason to the Lodge evenings
- Seeking help, obtaining commitment and delegating responsibility among Officers and members of the Lodge