(A matter of Lodge Leadership)


This Short Talk Bulletin has been adapted from a pamphlet, issued by

the Masonic Service Committee of the Grand Lodge of lowa, which was

written by the late M. W. Brother Burton H. Saxton, P.G.M. We

appreciate the permission of the Grand Lodge of lowa in allowing us

to present

this "good and wholesome instruction."


The insistent demand for leadership is a wholesome sign; it means not

only that the value of constructive work is admitted, but that it

must be planned and directed by individuals who are themselves not

merely willing to cooperate, but who have the ability, through the

cooperation they inspire in others, to produce results.


The votes which elect a Master speak the confidence of the Brethren

in his leadership- a responsibility that should not rest lightly upon

his shoulders, and will not, if these Brethren have made no mistake

in their estimate. The Master, perhaps above all others, should take

counsel of this: "To see how little we can do, is to exist; to see

how much we can do, is to live. " In a large measure his officers

should share his concern to adhere closely to this challenging



Adequate leadership is needed in every lodge, regardless of size or

age, for the demands of lodge administration are varied and exacting.

It is recognized, of course, that many of these duties are cared for

by officers other than the Master, but nevertheless he is the

executive head of the lodge and must therefore accept final



We may say that a broad definition of lodge administration includes

these seven major divisions: Finances, Ritual, Masonic Education and

Inspiration, Proper Assimilation of New Members, Conservation of

Membership, Fraternal Welfare and Relief, and Relations with Grand

Lodge. It should be helpful to consider each of these separately.




This department of lodge administration concerns mainly income and

disbursements, assets and liabilities.


The sources of the lodge's income are usually limited to fees and

dues, and, in certain cases, rent on its commercial property, and

interest on savings deposits or securities.


From the net amount of the fees (total collected less that portion

alloted to Grand Lodge) it would seem wise to provide as far as

possible a reserve for emergencies and for relief. If there is an

outstanding debt (mortgage or other), a sinking fund should be

established for its retirement and current interest payments thereon.

Infrequent petitions may make this difficult, but in principle it is

a sound method and should be observed as closely as possible.


The collection of dues presents a more complex problem, and the

requirements in relation thereto should be strictly followed. Besides

collection, there are the matters of remission of dues when

justified, and of suspension for non-payment. The only basis for

remission of dues usually recognized, is actual inability to pay.

Suspension for nonpayment should be enforced when failure to pay

arises from any other cause than the one justifying remission. This

rule is of benefit not only to the lodge, which is thus relieved of

paying Grand Lodge dues by reason of the suspension, but also to the

brother him- self, as his accumulated debt to the lodge might

otherwise be difficult to meet at a later date.


It cannot be emphasized too strongly that the Grand Lodge portions of

both dues and fees should be segregated and held as trust funds,

since their actual ownership is in the Grand Lodge. In effect, the

subordinate lodge has merely collected these funds for the Grand

Lodge, and under no circumstances should it use them for its own

purposes. Serious complications have sometimes arisen because of


rance of or indifference to this important distinction.


Disbursements affect two groups of charges: fixed and variable. Under

fixed charges (besides Grand Lodge dues and its portion of the fees)

are found such items as rent, taxes, interest, insurance, repairs,

salaries, continuing relief cases, and the transfer of approved

amounts to reserve or sinking funds.

The variable charges may be classified as emergency relief cases,

equipment and supplies,

entertainment, printing, postage, and miscellaneous.


Sound business methods call for the annual preparation of a budget

and rigid adherence thereto. The fixed charges may be closely known

in advance, and past experience should be a fairly safe guide in

estimating those expenses which are variable. The possibility of new

or emergency relief cases presents a difficulty, but any excess over

a reasonable estimate might be drawn from the reserve already

mentioned. A budget has the advantage of requiring advance planning,

fixing limitations to

variable charges, and supporting objections to unwise or impulsive

motions to incur expenses which were not anticipated. If a lodge

finds that expenses exceed income, with no immediate relief in sight,

it should either economize or increase its dues--there is no other

alternative if it is to remain solvent.


One other vitally important financial requirement of efficient lodge

administration is the annual audit of the accounts of both Secretary

and Treasurer. The audit report should go into the situation

thoroughly, taking nothing for granted, giving the facts, favorable

or otherwise, as they find them. If justifiable adverse criticism is

made, steps should at once be taken to correct the fault. Dishonesty

is rarely found, but carelessness occasionally is present, sometimes

working to the disadvantage of the lodge, and should not be further



When any matter of unusual importance arises, such as purchase or

sale of real estate, negotiating a loan, financing the improvement or

erection of a hall or Temple, expert counsel should of course be

consulted; otherwise mistakes are easily made -- and are usually





Since the Ritual is so vital a part of Masonry, it is imperative that

the officers become competent in its use if the candidate is to

realize as he should the significance of the ceremonies in which he

participates. His mind is (or should be) alert to every word, for

what he is about to receive lies entirely outside his past

experience. If certain officers have done their duty, he is not

disturbed by anticipation of anything not consistent with the dignity

and solemnity of the degrees; he is keenly sensitive to impressions,

and they can easily be made unfavorable by hesitant, uncertain,

expressionless, or stilted

rendition of the Ritual. It should be exact, for there is only one

right way, and A proper pride will insist on precision. Deliberate

and effective expression will serve to interpret to the candidate

much that otherwise might be confusing. It is quite obvious that this

calls for understanding on the part of the officers themselves.




The quality of our Masonry cannot rise above the level of our

thinking, and our thinking is not likely to rise above the level of

what we know.


Since any study of Masonry must be purely voluntary, the least that

can be done for those who display any interest whatever is to make

available authentic material, with counsel as to its selection and

use. Admitting the voluntary nature of any such study, be it light

and incidental or serious and sustained, all possible encouragement

should be given to make at least a beginning, trusting to the appeal

of the subject in due course to plead its own cause.


To speak of the study of Masonry is to speak of unlimited

possibilities. This, however, should not dismay even the newly made

Mason, for he is at liberty to attempt much or little, and to choose

whatever subject or subjects he prefers. Our historical background,

both Operative and Speculative, is not only one of intense interest,

but is necessary to a better understanding of all other phases of

Masonry; therefore, regardless of later preferences, it deserves

first attention.


Symbolism is another important subject that requires investigation,

since it deeply concerns our moral, philosophical, and ethical

principles; yet many of our symbols call for interpretations far

beyond the brief and obvious definitions commonly given, and to

neglect these is to miss much of the essential spirit of Masonry



There are other phases that may be explored with profit: (a) the

development and spread of

Speculative Masonry over the world--for until we realize that the

Craft is a world-wide Fraternity we have not sensed the strength and

possibilities of its influence; (b) religious and political

opposition, both here and abroad, past and present; (c) Masonry in

our own colonies; (d) Masonry in the formation of our govern-ment;

(e) a study of the lives of famous men who were Masons; (f) the early

history of the three degrees; (g) how we got our Ritual. These by no

means cover the entire ground, but their study--or even a thoughtful

reading of one or more of the best authorities on the various sub-

jects--should greatly deepen one's respect for the institution of

which he is a part. If our Craft is worth joining, it is worth

understanding; the better the understanding, the greater

appreciation, appreciation leads to usefulness, and upon the useful

Mason the future of the Fraternity depends.




This is a matter of first importance, but one which, unfortunately,

has not always received the attention it deserves. The newly made

Mason is an asset--but also a responsibility. It is taken for granted

that the degrees have been conferred impressively and that he has had

simple help in posting. He has been made to feel completely at home

in this new relationship, and has already sensed a fraternal spirit

new to his experience.


But his actual knowledge of Masonry is at best very limited; rather

let it be called an impression. When he became a Master Mason, he

crossed the frontier of what was, in a large sense, an undiscovered

country. He has entered into what should be regarded as a life

relationship--a serious step in any case. The remote beginnings of

Masonry, its stability through the centuries, is spread over the

civilized world, its religious and political tolerance, the history

of its opposition to tyranny in any form--are all these and more to

remain to him a closed book? This question cannot be dismissed

lightly if our implied obligation to him is to be fulfilled.


The candidate should be informed of the vast reservoir of Masonic

literature available to him through the Masonic Service Association.

To encourage him in the use of this collection is to point the way to

a greater appreciation of the Fraternity with which he has now become

identified. He has been told that "Masonry is a progressive science,"

but this is meaningless to the individual unless he shares in its

progress. He may have initiative, but direction and counsel are

necessary and clearly his right.


The process of assimilation cannot be complete until the new member

has been given something to do. Not only does this make him feel that

he is a fully "accepted" Mason, but it is to a certain extent a test

of his mental attitude as well as of his ability. Even a slight (but

early) participation in some activity of the lodge will seem

important, or at least welcome, to him, for he is thereby made to

realize that he "belongs"--a heartwarming discovery.




Broadly speaking, a member who was worth getting is surely worth

keeping. Some loss is inevitable, aside from deaths; but, if combined

losses were steadily to exceed initiations, eventually Masonry would

disappear. This theoretical possibility is mentioned only to

emphasize the vital importance of conserving what we have, and

conserving it to the utmost of our ability. We cannot legally solicit

petitions, but we can and should use every legitimate means to avoid

even the smallest loss of desirable membership. For example, no

worthy brother should be allowed to forfeit his good standing if he

is actually unable to pay his dues. His pride may keep him silent,

but the Secretary or some

other member aware of the difficult situation should be able to

satisfy himself of the true state of affairs and recommend remission.

There may be borderline cases which should be referred to a

committee, and a personal interview will often clear up the matter of

delinquent dues when carelessness or indifference accounts for the



It should be presumed that those who have been suspended for

nonpayment will, in the course of time, be willing and able to

petition for reinstatement. These cases should never be allowed to

drift indefinitely, for the longer they remain out of touch with the

lodge, the greater the chance of losing them permanently. Carefully

planned efforts should be made at intervals to close up the ranks,

and experience has shown that surprisingly good results are possible.


The principle of conservation of membership deals also with matters

wholly apart from finances. It has to do with the interest of the

individual in Masonry itself. In the section devoted to the proper

assimilation of new members, the importance of giving them something

to do was strongly emphasized. This sound principle should be applied

with equal care to those older brethren-that is, older in point of

membership-who have no official duties and perhaps no place on active

committees. The problem of attendance is constant, and bears some

relation to conservation; it is reasonable to suppose that members

who are given a chance to be directly useful in lodge affairs will

take more interest, and that interest will impel attendance;

furthermore, a member whose interest is sustained by lodge activities

in which he has even a small part is likely to value his good

standing more highly

than if nothing is expected of him.


The Master has heard time and again that one of his duties is to "set

the Craft at work." He must, of course, decide what should be

attempted in his particular lodge. It is presumed that he has had

some official responsibility prior to his advancement to the East,

and that he has profited both by observation and experience. He is

likewise familiar with the diversity of interests and capabilities of

many of his brethren. Given these advantages, plus some definite

ideas of what needs to be done

(and anything which will benefit the lodge is a need), he is ready to

set the machinery in motion.


The newly elected Master is soon conscious of the fact that the

responsibility of leadership, heretofore viewed from some other

station in the lodge, is a reality which he, himself, must meet and

discharge-and with credit, if he is to justify the confidence of his



The diversity of interests always present in any group must be

recognized. This will point the necessity of diversified types of

meetings if satisfactory attendance and cooperation are to be

secured. This varity is wholesome. Monotony is deadly-and it may

safely be attributed to lack of initiative, or to insistence on or

restriction to some one activity in which only a few may be

interested, or to a sadly inadequate understanding of Masonry itself.




While Relief is the second of our three principal tenets, Masonry in

no sense guarantees indemnity for physical or financial misfortune.

It does, however, impress upon the individual member at the outset of

his Masonic career the profoundly important principle of Charity.

While this obligation is accepted

individually, it is clear that some well-defined plan must be adopted

by the membership as a whole if relief is to be administered



Few, if any, lodges escape the necessity of contributing funds for

the relief of unfortunate brethren or their dependents. It should be

remembered that such relief is primarily the responsibility of the

lodge, and that the Grand Lodge Charity Fund should not be called on

for help unless or until the lodge has exhausted its own available



The sympathetic and the practical should be equally blended in the

approach to all such cases. Moreover, the term "Charity," as Masons

use it, is not limited to emergencies that simply require immediate

food, shelter, or clothing; it embraces continuing relief when

necessary, as in event of serious accident or illness; it may even

include certain welfare work, rehabilitation of families, supervision

or at least kindly counsel in the problems of education of minor

children, and assistance in finding employment. It should not be

forgotten that the knowledge of sincere interest on the

part of his brethren is cheering and stabilizing to the one who is

facing grave difficulties. This

interest should be made very plain to him, for an encouraging word is

often powerful in its effect. While on this subject, it is suggested

that not all the anxieties of our brethren are financial, and that a

tactful expression of genuine concern for his welfare may be

gratefully remembered long after you have forgotten the incident.



Grand Lodge is usually referred to as an event-the Annual

Communication-rather than as an organization which functions steadily

throughout the year; the latter sense is the one in which it is here



Because of the many points of contact with Grand Lodge, both Master

and Secretary should become familiar with the Code-at least with all

those portions relating to lodge administration. No car owner would

for a moment consider starting on an unfamiliar tour of the country

without a road map; nor, having it, would he fail to consult it-in

advance-at every point of uncertainty. This very simple and

obvious principle applies, especially, to the Master and Secretary in

the conduct of their several duties. "The Book of Constitutions you

are to search at all times"-a sentence from the ceremony of

installation of the Master, and a significant one.


There are two Grand Lodge officers with whom the Craft is frequently

in contact: the Grand Master and the Grand Secretary. The former

presides over the Grand Lodge at its Annual Communication, and also

(in person or by duly appointed representative) at special

communications, such as dedications, corner-stone layings,

constituting newly chartered lodges, funerals, and any other

occasions wholly under the supervision of Grand Lodge. He issues

dispensations for the formation of

new lodges. Upon request, he renders opinions for administrative

guidance of the Craft, and decisions on points at issue-the latter

subject to later review by the Committee on Masonic Jurisprudence in

most jurisdictions. With certain exceptions, he appoints all

committees, boards, and non-elective officers. He may arrest the

jewel of any lodge officer, or the charter of any lodge. He may

"convene, open, preside in, inspect, and close any lodge in the Grand

Jurisdiction, and require conformity to

Masonic law and usage. " He is "to exercise and discharge the

executive functions of the Grand

Lodge when it is not in session" is an indication of his

responsibility and authority.


There is much correspondence and consultation with the Grand

Secretary during the course of the year, yet in many cases of legal

nature such inquiries would often be unnecessary if the Master or

Secretary would consult the Code instead (this likewise applies to

similar questions sent the Grand Master).