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Kernels and insights for the WM and future WM of any Lodge - Lecture by W Bro George Jayaprakash

What specific insights and suggestions can those who have occupied the position of Worshipful Master give you?

 Here are some of the succinct points made by the contributors, in no particular order:

  1. Seek advice from the Past Masters and other learned Brothers--you'll know which ones to go to.

  2. Put your heart, soul, and toenails into your Lodge Trestle Board.

  3. Have a term plan, in addition to your mission statement, that includes Masonic education, Lodge visitations, and social events, and be sure your Line Officers, including the Secretary, have copies well in advance of your installation.

  4. Know your ritual work before being installed, and ask for help if you don't.

  5. Read, and re-read, your Lodge by-laws and the Book of Constitutions, your Grand Lodge Constitution, and Book of Regulations.

  6. Use common sense.

  7. Communicate with your officers and candidates.

  8. Be organized and efficient at meetings.

  9. Be prepared for emergencies--expect Brother V.W. Murphy (Murphy's Laws) to be a regular visitor to your Lodge.

  10. Be patient with the Past Masters who think they know it all.

  11. Find at least three Past Masters and ask them to help you put together a program that will make the Lodge much better by your term's end.

  12. Concentrate on what the Lodge needs, not just what interests you.

  13. Take your wife, if you have one, on a mini-honeymoon before your installation, and promise her another after your successor is installed.

  14.  Direct and lead with the gavel, but avoid dictating with it.

  15. Have a solid handle on your Lodge's financial condition.

  16. Try to get on the same page as your two next likely successors, your SW and JW.

  17. Listen to everyone, even the jerks.

  18. If it's important, it needs to be done. Now. Waiting for consensus is procrastination. You were elected to lead, so lead!

  19. Think marathon, not sprint.

  20. Try asking people to do specific, achievable things--"Would you write to these three Brothers (addresses attached) whom we haven't seen for several meetings?," not "Would you contact some of the guys who haven't been coming to Lodge?"

  21. Have fun with your year In the East!

  22. Use the phone, in addition to putting Lodge events in the TrestleBoard. Use a phone committee, with specific Lodge members for each committee member to call.

  23. Hold officer rehearsals at least monthly.

  24. Keep the business part of the meetings as short as possible.

  25. Analyze what programs have worked for Past Masters, and what programs didn't work.

  26. Be prepared to be in control of your Lodge during your year as Worshipful Master.

  27. Learn the ritual work

  28. Have your committee appointments lined up before you are installed.

  29. If you desire to make significant changes, do so in a way that avoids alienating the Brothers who have brought your Lodge as far as it has come.

  30. Try to respond to the desires of the majority, but do not sell yourself or your program down the river to do so.

  31. Seek input from others to define the needs of the Lodge, and formulate a program responding to those needs.

  32. The key to success is planning, planning, planning.

  33. Involve your Line Officers in your planning.

  34. Sponsor and plan for interesting Masonic education programs, with outside speakers if possible, as well as Past Masters and other Brothers interested in specific Masonic topics. Avoid non-Masonic topics; leave those to the service clubs.

  35. Have education programs for topics of interest, including non-Masonic topics such as heart disease. [The topic of non-Masonic education & information programs brought sharply divided input from the contributors. Some recommended them; some condemned them. You know your Lodge; use your judgment.]

  36. Keep in touch with all Brothers if possible, paying particular attention to shut-in or infirm Brothers, and to those who have been regular in attendance but who suddenly stop coming. This could be a sign of health problems of which you may not be aware.

  37. Utilize a transportation committee to provide transportation to those Brothers who may be unable to drive to meetings or events.

  38. Be practical in your planning for your year In the East.

  39. Hit the ground running! You can't afford to spend two or three months figuring out the position of Worshipful Master.

  40. Utilize a calling list for your officers, passing calls down the Officers' Line to the Tyler, and have the Tyler report back to you.

  41. Take a humble pill immediately after your installation, and remember that Masonry is a volunteer undertaking. Don't make it a drudge, and make it interesting for the Brothers.

  42. When conflict arises, be prepared to deal with it quickly, before it becomes a problem for the Lodge.

  43. Don't try to turn a failed program into a success. Admit the failure, learn from it, and move on to something else.

  44. Vow to love all of the Brothers--the good, the bad, and the ugly. This will get harder as your year goes on!

  45. Deal with all Brothers out of love, fairness, and honesty, and don't play politics with them.

  46. Let the Brothers know when you are pleased with them, and let them know (constructively) when you are displeased. Don't expect them to read your mind.

  47. Pay attention when a Brother wants to tell you something, even if you're occupied. It may be important to you; it's definitely important to him.

  48. Don't let anyone rush you into snap decisions. But, when a decision has to be made, make it. Get to know the Secretary. Be mindful of the Secretary's many responsibilities, and use him sparingly and efficiently. Every request you make of the Secretary causes him extra work. Any Master or Brother, in about fifteen seconds, can think of projects that will require several hours of the Secretary's time. He is busy enough! 

  49. Any request by a Brother for something extra from the Secretary should come through you as Worshipful Master. The Secretary can make or break your year as Worshipful Master, not only by what he does, but by what he does not do, or does not inform you about.

  50. Be flexible in your planning. Changes are inevitable, and will need to be made.

  51. Include the Lodge Widows in your plans, with several-more than one-- events for them during the year. 

  52. Spread the work around. Asking that marginally-active Brother to participate in a project may be just the thing that will cement his relationship to the Lodge, and will spark his interest to the point of becoming an active regular. 

  53. Spend time getting to know the new candidates and Brothers. They are the future of your Lodge.

  54. Masonic Lodges are not ruled by the membership but by the Master. The members expect the Master to rule and lead, and the Lodge suffers when he does not.

  55. Try a community activity with some other organization, such as Knights of Columbus, Elks, etc.

  56. Remember the "back bones," who do all the work, and the "jaw bones," who gripe about the work that the back bones do.

  57. Remember the story about Anybody, Somebody, Everybody, and Nobody; and, remember that there are really only two: Somebody and Everybody.

  58. Plan your work, and then work your plan.

  59. Remember the concepts of courtesy, Masonic etiquette, and protocol, and know what they are for each situation that you know you will confront as Master.

  60. Be prepared for your meetings, with a definite program and agenda.

  61. Avoid trying to be "one of the boys" to curry favor with the Brothers or to get them to like you. It is more important that they respect you in the position of Worshipful Master, and you need to earn that respect by the example you set. If they respect you, be assured, they will like you.

  62. Be sure visitors are made to feel welcome.

  63. If you have a Festive Board, be sure it is done properly, with all required protocol and ceremony.

  64. Be mentally prepared for the position of Worshipful Master. Care for the Brethren. Care for the Lodge and its work. Care for your candidates, and be sure your Degree work is done properly and with the necessary decorum. 

  65. Read your Lodge's minutes book, especially during periods of growth, to get a feel of what True Masonic Charity is all about. This will give you a feeling of appreciation for the efforts you are being allowed to follow--along with a sense of humility.

  66. Be sure each Brother receives recognition during the month of his Masonic Birthday. If a Brother cannot attend, ask him for a written greeting to the Lodge that can be read at the recognition portion of the program.

  67. Do not try to do everything yourself.

  68. Solicit ideas from others, including your Line Officers. Give them a feel for what you are going through in the decision-making process as Worshipful Master.

  69. Be sure to visit the Lodge's youth groups. You will receive special recognition as the Lodge's representative, and your interest and support by your presence will be appreciated.

  70. The most important part of the Worshipful Master's position is having a sense of vision, a sense of direction, and a sense of purpose. The Worshipful Master must know where he wants to take the Lodge, how he is going to accomplish that task, and who he can go to for help. Having a sense of vision, direction, and purpose will be appreciated, and will draw support from the Brothers, even if they do not necessarily agree with all the points of the Worshipful Master's program.

  71. Avoid taking on too many responsibilities in other Appendant bodies.

  72. Try to build continuity into your programs, to the extent possible, without leaving your successor lacking in flexibility.

  73. Have contingency plans for the unexpected collapses of events or programs.

  74. Don't try to do too much--concentrate on a few core items and goals.

  75. Your purpose as Master is to motivate, stimulate, and coordinate the Education and Leadership activities of your Lodge. 

  76. To get help--Seek, Ask, and Knock.

  77. Invite the Brothers to "Dream Along with Me," in imagining a better course for the Lodge.

  78. Bring the bare words in your ritual and Degree work to life; this will reveal a wealth of deeper meaning for the Brethren, and for you.

  79. Try to find constructive things for the Past Masters to do, so that they will not wind up having finished their years as Master, and then vanishing from the Lodge.

  80. Remember that you are in charge of a management team, and that other members of the team will eventually lead the Lodge. Do what you can to help them develop their respective styles of leadership, and to encourage them to accept the responsibilities that go with the position of Worshipful Mast

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