The Master's Book 7
Carl H. Claudy
"SET THE CRAFT TO LABOR"
The enthusiastic Master usually heads an enthusiastic Lodge.
No one can inculcate enthusiasm in others if he does not possess it. But many a Master is enthusiastic over his Masonry, his Lodge and its activities, who does not know the few parlor tricks of the East which inspire others.
It is trite but true: men like to work when they don't have to!
The Master who puts many brethren to work at something- -just what is not important — will have enthusiastic meetings.
Brethren may be interested in dozens of activities. A glad hand committee, not only for visitors but to greet every member as he comes in, is always an asset. Rival committees — perhaps as many as six — may be asked to provide entertainment, each for one meeting. A prize may be given the committee staging the most popular evening. (Note: different Lodges have different methods. In a Lodge which must count pennies, the Master may offer the prize personally. Suitable prizes are: an evening at the theater for all the members of the committee; a Masonic book for each member of the committee; a Masonic button for each member.)
Very successful are large committees to call on delinquent members; committees to call on the stay-at-home brethren with personal invitations to attend; sojourners' committees, to call on brethren of foreign Lodges temporarily within the jurisdiction of the Lodge; committees on the sick; rival degree teams for each degree.
A Master may thus put a hundred brethren to work, often with amazing results in the new interest brethren take in Lodge when they have definite tasks.
The laborer is worthy of his hire. The only pay a committeeman can receive is Master's Wages. Pay them, pay them generously, pay them often. Make them stand up, tell the Lodge what good workers they have been, thank them. In especially meritorious cases have the brother-to-be-thanked conducted to the Altar, and speak to him there. In the Middle Chamber the workmen received their wages in corn, wine and oil. Do not leave all the oil in the oil fields ! A little poured from the East is good Masonic diplomacy.
Most Grand Jurisdictions have some pet project — a Home, a Hospital, an Orphanage, a Charity Foundation, a library — all excellent pegs on which to hang garments of enthusiasm. Get some brother who can talk to visit the institution and tell the Lodge about it. Organize a bus pilgrimage to the Home, at special rates, advertise it well, make a ladies' picnic of it if the Lodge likes to bring its better halves along. Find a successful graduate of the Home School and ask him to tell the Lodge about it. Has the Home a band? Organize a "Concert Committee" to raise funds to bring it to Lodge; invite the neighboring Lodges. Probabilities are the Lodge room won't be big enough.
Many Lodges have a sister Lodge, in their own or a neighboring Jurisdiction, with which we ties of union are unusually close.
Annual visits between such Lodges result in large attendance and fraternal evenings. If no such sister Lodge is tied to a Master's by special bonds, hunt up one and start the ball rolling by inviting that Lodge to visit yours. Pick the newest Lodge, the oldest Lodge, the most historic Lodge, the biggest Lodge, the smallest Lodge; a Lodge with a Master who has your name; a Lodge with the same name as yours — anything will do for an excuse.
If the rules of Grand Lodge permit, ask a sister Lodge in another Jurisdiction to put on a degree. Before sending such an invitation be sure your Grand Lodge looks with favor on such interchange of work; consult District Deputy, Grand Secretary or Grand Master.
Has your State some nearby historic place, marker, monument, park, house, battlefield? Organize a visit of your Lodge. Especially is this worth while if there is a Masonic significance to the place visited. A journey to your local Yorktown, Williamsburg, Valley Forge, Custer's Last Stand, Fort Dearborn, Meeting on the Mountain, etc., can always be hooked up with Masonry, since all such have some associations with great men who were Masons.
Masons are not "men with pins on their coats." Masonry is a vital force in the lives of many; one touch on the right key and Masonic enthusiasm simply pours out of members.
A brother was injured and a blood transfusion necessary. The Master of his Lodge learned it on the night of a third degree. It was his custom to make a little talk before each ceremony on one of its significances. An opportunist, the Master junked his prepared speech and spoke for five minutes on the Five Points — then called for volunteers for the blood transfusion.
Fifteen brethren rose to clamor for the chance to show their Five Points meant something to them.
The Master of a small midwestern Lodge, poor in finances, had a pressing relief case; a brother had lost his home by storm. He had told the Lodge about it. The Treasurer arose to say: "But we have no money, Worshipful."
"Who said anything about money?" retorted the Master. "I want volunteers with tools, who will give each a day's work, two days, whatever you can spare. We can't buy Brother Jones a new home, but we are sorry sons of pioneers if we can 't build one !"
Thirty-four men rebuilt Brother Jones's home for him, and then pleaded with the Master for "another happy time and good day's outing like that!"
Give the brethren a chance to do something, anything, no matter how small or unimportant. A brother convinced that he is helping is enthusiastic. One Master appointed a young brother as assistant to an old, feeble and forgetful Tiler — who was much beloved. The young assistant did no more than bring out the aprons, sort out and put away the officers' jewels, but he was company for the old man for the half hour before and after the meeting. At the end of the year, thanking the lad, the Master said: "Doubtless you'll be glad that a new Master will give your thankless job to some one else."
"Glad? I'll be all broken up if he doesn't reappoint me!" was the answer. The boy had never missed a meeting and now that he has the habit, probably never will.
A certain old Past Master came only once or twice a year. It was said that "Brother Smith was a very active Master and now that he has nothing to do, feels lost in Lodge."
"I 'll give him something to do!" determined the new Master, then offered the old Past Master the Chaplaincy of the Lodge. The old Past Master protested that he was too old; the Lodge had a minister (who could seldom attend); he had not done any work for years . . . the Master overrode him. The Past Master took the position, and the storm does not blow that can keep him away from his Lodge. Flagging enthusiasm was aroused by a small job, with something constructive to do.
Will there be a "big night"? Appoint half a dozen assistant stewards to lug in chairs and benches. Is there a "big feed" for some special occasion? Plenty of brethren will gladly give up that evening in Lodge to help prepare the tables and serve the meal. Have you a semi-invalid who cannot easily get to Lodge? Responses will be generous to a request for volunteers to call for him and take him home. The Master may urge many members to watch for opportunities to furnish transportation to brethren residing in their neighborhood; the Lodge member without a car will appreciate a lift from his more fortunate brother.
A Master does not need much imagination to think up a thousand and one ways to interest his members in Lodge work, nor will he need more than two or three meetings to demonstrate the effectiveness of this simple and easy way to create enthusiasm, increase attendance, and swell to delightful proportions the pride and joy which men thus set to labor for the common good will find in their Lodge.
Try it — you'll be surprised!