Masonic Entitlement

A common lament in our society today is that our youth have developed a sense of entitlement whereby they believe they are entitled to a cell phone, a computer, an education, a car, or whatever.  For some reason, they believe they have a God-given right to such things as opposed to working and earning them.  I also see evidence of this in Masonic Lodges where some young officers believe that by simply attending Lodge and wearing a tux, they are entitled to the next chair in the officer rotation.  On too many occasions, in too many Lodges, I have seen such officers skate through their responsibilities and accomplish nothing.  They still do not know their ritual work, they still do not capably perform the responsibilities that accompany the office, yet they feel entitled to move up in the Lodge.  Actually, such people are capitalizing on those Lodges struggling for membership and participation.  The mindset tends to be, “If they don’t like what I’m doing, then fine, I’ll leave and they won’t have anybody sitting in a chair.”  This is extortion no matter how you try to rationalize it.  If this approach is successful, incompetence is rewarded.

I don’t buy such a scenario and have never voted along such lines.  I vote for the person I believe is the most competent to hold the office, not the least, and I’m beginning to believe I’m an anomaly in this regards.

In my jurisdiction, there is no real prerequisite for becoming a Worshipful Master other than being a Master Mason in good standing.  You do not need to pass any tests, earn any proficiency cards, attend any training, or know any ritual.  Heck, you don’t even have to have earned your white leather apron.  I have seen quite a few people who have rotated to the East without such qualifications; they just happened to be warm available bodies who can sit in a chair.  As an aside, I have never met a person with such a background who was successful as a Worshipful Master.  The Lodge simply muddled through his year and stagnated.

It is my understanding that in California, there are “District Inspectors” who review the capabilities of the Lodge officers.  If they can pass the muster, they can proceed to the next chair if so elected.  The point is, before they proceed to the next chair, they must be properly trained and understand their responsibilities.  To me, this is forward thinking.

There is an unwritten rule that a Worshipful Master should prepare his junior officers for moving up if they are so inclined.  This is why I think Masonic Education is so important, including the development of administrative and management skills.  Unfortunately, today’s Worshipful Masters are facing resistance from the junior officers because of the entitlement issue.  Frankly, I see Masonic entitlement becoming worse before it gets better.  If people are unwilling to step up to the plate and assume responsibility, or are unwilling to put their best foot forward, maybe its time to think about closing the Lodge and moving on to one who has its act together.

All we can ask from our Lodge officers is one thing; that they at least TRY.  I can assure you they won’t be 100% successful.  Undoubtedly they will make mistakes along the way, but you’ll be surprised what can be accomplished simply by trying.

Just TRY!

Keep the Faith!

Freemasonry From the Edge

Freemasonry From the Edge

Tim Bryce,
PM, MPS, MMBBFMN
“A foot soldier for Freemasonry”

NOTE: The opinions expressed in this essay are my own and do not necessarily represent the views or opinions of any Grand
Masonic jurisdiction or any other Masonic related body. As with all of my Masonic articles herein, please feel free to reuse
them in Masonic publications or re-post them on Masonic web sites (except Florida). When doing so, please add the following:

Article reprinted with permission of the author and www.FreemasonInformation.com
Also be sure to check out Tim’s “Pet Peeve of the Week” (non-Masonic related).

Read more from Tim Bryce and Freemasonry from the Edge.

Copyright © 2008 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

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Comments

  1. Michael A. Henry, PM says:

    The problem of entitlement, at least as I can determine, that faces each Lodge in my jurisdiction (California), begins with the “entitlement” of the “short form” Ritual. Our Grand Lodge, not wishing to deter anyone who might wish to join, has, in its wisdom, determined that making membership as easy as possible, including little or no reqirement for memory work, will forward their membership goal. The primary “job” of a “Blue Lodge” is to “raise men good and true” and by doing so inculcate in them the values and lessons of Freemasonry. This process takes time! The ongoing rush to take a man rapidly through the degrees is cheating both the man and the Lodge. This tendancy of rapid advancement without much work, along with a lax selection process has, in my opinion, brought us to where we are today–“In Trouble”. Just an opinion-Best: Michael.

  2. Donald Maguire says:

    Your comments on “entitlement” are very valid…but can I dare to suggest they are at least 100 years too late?
    As a past master of a very successful Scottish lodge, in terms of regular new intrants of mixed ages mixed races, and all outwardly doing as good a job at all office level , and I include brethren from the columns.A lodge that is financially sound, and high expectations are expected , and encouraged from all who accept membership . I see no reason why that wont continue.
    My fear however , and I pick up on comments from other discussions , is that after encouraging /promoting all that a freemason should be , there always comes that time when the humble entered apprentice moves upwards , and a few choose the path of progressive office, and reach the highest office in the lodge , invariably with great pomp and ceremony, at his installation evening. THEN, he becomes a past master, he isn,t preffered to be retained as a person just getting to grips with the real opportunity of promoting our true belief , and all the benefits a “Global” organisation can trully acheive.No his time is up..
    I repeat what I said in a previous discussion , that in our country (Scotland) where the first artisan mason crossed the path to a free and accepted speculative society , that the Grand Lodge has not changed in it’s stance in over 400 years!
    Could it be that as a new Grand Master Mason is installed , he too will be content “doing his time” ? Do we recognise any change that has rocked our masonic world during our tenure as a mason , could it be that the lack of goals , the lack of involvement, the lack of genuine interest, from our peers be reaching an “average ” lodge.
    How many lodge members can say, ” I want to acheive what he did , as I believe my brother saw light and hope and a goal in acheiving his position” ?? As we do not truly see the acheivements of our leaders , who head up our craft , neither can an average brother , who has only been allowed to identify with changing apathy every two years (one in some cases), be truly expected to identify the true beauties of freemasonry, unless it is cascaded from the top. Every freemason has to understand that as a worldwide organisation , our strength can be incredible , but it is not. We will all from time to time be seen to assist a terrible tradgedy (Tsunami) as an example , but every country , every town , every street , will have it’s own needs , and by opening our eyes , and our hearts , and often our pockets to a much wider picture than an office bearer progressing or not, or a brother being a tremendous ritulist or not, the younger freemason , can identify far more that he can be involved in , as part of a bigger picture..we all can. The end of a master coming out of the chair and being happy to hand over his lodge keys , can’t come quick enough. His job should be more than inheriting a part time unpaid job, which younger office bearers aren’t blind too.Very few PM’s have an opportunity to ,progress any where near to that,which would be required to install a change of spirit ,at the “level” that could truly aid all new intrants , master masons , starting their journey, knowing a spirit of desire leads from the top. This way many would find the progress in a lodge a natural goal , knowing that with new knowledge new goals can be acheived.
    Apathy , doesn’t just arrive , nor will it just dissapear , but drawing a line in the sand , and leading a fresh, open, promotion of our aims and ambitions as freemasons , more importantly , carrying them out, may just be that catalyst, that will retain and rejuvinate masonic interest , in every town , Country , State etc.
    Who ever created “being on the level “had the right idea , lets not change that with titles, be prepared to extend the right hand of fellowship , in your own lodge, help the younger brethren to the path of light, and maybe , just maybe , enough light will get through to to even the highest office.

  3. W:.Michael –

    I agree wholeheartedly with your observations. The only people served by shortening the process are the Rites, the Grotto, and the Shrine who have their own membership issues. This is why I am such a proponent of the TO Lodge concept.

    All the Best,
    Tim Bryce

  4. Bro. Matthew Green says:

    Fraternal Greetings and thank you for opening up this dialogue. There has never been a more important time for Masonry than now. I believe that the young men of this generation are in search of something greater than themselves and are both willing and able to fulfill on the necessary requirements for advancement. All too often Past Masters speak of the youth today as though they were never experienced it. Certainly the present state of the fraternity must deem it fair enough to share the burden of it’s success across those brethren both past and present. In our lodge it has stated by our worshipful master that members must earn each degree by putting in the work before they reach the sublime degree of Master Mason. Further to that it is taught as a matter of course the principals of refinement are the foundation of our craft. I truly believe that if a proper example is set by the lodge from the moment a brother is raised then he will learn to raise to the occasion as he passes to the East.

    In short attitude reflects leadership.

    Fraternally Yours,

    Bro. Matthew Green
    SW Mt. Olive Lodge #1
    M. W. P. G. L of Ontario and Jurisdiction.

  5. I have observed the attitude that Tim describes and that it why it is so important to select the right individuals to advance through our progressive lines. Granted it is tough to be selective when sometimes there are so very few to choose from. Our lodge has a very young officer line. The Master at the beginning of year recognized the need for officer education, made it a priority and proceeded to see there was training for the young officers in Grand Lodge code, ritual, lodge management and leadership. The young officers have responded well and actually welcomed the attention they received even though they were asked to work hard in improving their performance. It also allowed some of us Past Masters to, as one said, “add to his legacy,” by mentoring the young officers. This process has turned that attitude of entitlement that Tim describes into an attitude of pride. Maybe we were just lucky to get the right individuals, but I like to think it was because we told them from the beginning what was expected of them, we exposed them to as much information as we could and we gave them help and encouragement to improve.

  6. AnotherBrother says:

    Brother Tim,

    What is your view of a lodge that on election night only about a dozen members show up, one of them the newest brother who has only been a MM for a few months. The rest of the brothers that were present were all past masters of this very lodge, some more than once and ask the young mason if he would be interested in progressing through the chairs, but beginning at the JW station?

  7. Andrew Binkerd says:

    I appreciate the dialogue, and enjoy the speculation.
    Not all of our youngest members are satisfied with skating through the first degrees, I was raised 1 year ago in April. Personally, I miss attaining proficiency. Committing the catechism to memory was probably the most difficult task I have completed. I have spoken with the brothers who have been through the “Short Form” Ritual, and for the most part they feel ripped off. They can not coach, and for the most part, have a terrible time memorizing ritual because they have never been taught how to READ the ritual. A few have stuck with the craft, but for the most part, Most never come back. I personally believe if you can’t do the work….
    In the year that I have been a Master Mason I have joined one other Lodge, Only for the benefit of preserving a dying lodge. For that lodge, and mother blue, I have Proven proficiency on the E.A. lecture, Apron lecture and Conducting through all three degrees. My peers in my lodges point me to the East, and I am pushing myself there.
    There are plenty of good men like myself who need this fraternity to make themselves even better. And it’s men like us who make that possible.
    Drew

  8. Chad Simpson says:

    Brothers,

    I hate to say it, but this sounds a little like a baseball coach showing up for a game and being disgusted that the team played so badly even though he never actually coached/mentored any of the players, held practices, discussed the fundamentals of the game, etc.

    If we want Lodges that function, officers that fulfill their responsibilities and active members than we need to step up to the plate and serve as active coaches/mentors/teachers that will work to fulfill that dream of the perfect game or being a member of the best Lodge we can create.

    I realize that we’re discussing a big problem here, but as one brother once said, “all Masonry is local.” It’s our own local Lodge where each of us has the greatest potential for positive change. And if that doesn’t work, find a group of like minded brothers and petition for a new Lodge…

    Fraternally,
    Chad Simpson

  9. Having district inspectors isn’t necessarily new or “forward thinking”; we’ve had them in CA for roughly150 of the 160 years we’ve been in existence! :)

  10. ronald chasteen says:

    BRITHER CHAD====HAVENT HEARD FROM YOU IN A LONG TIME==SPEAKING OF COACHES SHOWING UP===I WAS PAST MASTER 6 TIMES==MASON FOR 20 YEARS==LECTURED–FUNERIAL SEVICES ECT ECT–NEVER MISSED A NIGHT AT MY LODGE FOR 12 YEARS==BUT WHEN 4 COPS TOOK OVER MY LODGE==HAD MADE UP LIES ON ME==HAD ME EXPELLED FOR LIFE==BROKE EVERY BY-LAW YOU CAN THINK OF==GRAND LODGE WONT GIVE ME A TRIAL TO CLEAR MY NAME YET KEEP MY PERPETUAL MONEY–YEA I WAS A COACH THAT SHOWED UP==SORRY BUT I CANT GO TO ANOTHER LODGE—SOME PEOPLE THAT BELIVE IN WHAT THEY SWORE TO GOD–DONT FALTER FROM THAT==IM ONE OF THEM==BY THE WAY–STILL GOT THE YORK RIGHT ROBE I GAVE YOU?

  11. James Gardner says:

    I am not a mason.
    Yet I see the significance in everything you said.
    The decline of the nation, the wolrd, the civilization of mankind is due to this atrocity of “entitlement”.
    Gone are the days when we served a higher purpose than ourselves.
    And until we hold ourselves responsible, we we never break the vicious cycle. You are right, it will get worse before it gets better. Just like removing a necrotic limb, to save the body.
    I eagerly await the limit we we stand for.
    As Above, So Below (I hope)

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