Elections Have Consequences

By Midnight Freemasons Contributor 
WB Gregory J. Knott

With the presidential election just a few weeks away, my Facebook feed has been filled with posts about why you should or shouldn’t vote for a particular candidate.   It’s great to see citizens involved in our democracy, it strengthens our nation.
I have never missed voting in an election, and consider it both one of the highest privileges, and responsibilities that I have as a citizen.  But, why does voting matter, even if your selection of candidates is limited?   Because elections have consequences.
Let’s consider this phrase again; elections have consequences, even in your local Masonic lodge.   
When you put a brother in a chair, have you considered if they truly have the capacity to fill the position, and not just the chair?  If a brother starts as Junior Deacon and is planning to work their way through the chairs, can you look ahead down the road to see what kind of Worshipful Master of the lodge they might be in a few years?
One of the amazing opportunities in Freemasonry, is the ability to grow as an individual.  Being an officer, elected or appointed is certainly one of the ways to achieve this growth.   But being an officer may not be for everyone.   Let me reflect on some characteristics, that I believe are helpful to look for in an individual who is seeking election or appointment to an office.
Do they have the time? I have learned the hard way, that the monthly meeting is just the beginning of the time commitment to be an officers in a lodge.   There will be degree nights, dinners, practices, fundraisers, etc.   You don’t have to be at all of them, but you should be at most.
Do they have an eagerness to learn?   Each of the chairs comes with a certain level of responsibility.  In the progressive rotation, this amount of responsibility increases with each new position and reaches a capstone with becoming the Worshipful Master.  I found that an individual who wishes to learn, not just the ritual, but the responsibilities for the position, are good candidates for officers.  Learning is an excellent way for individual growth.
Do they have the ability to plan and ask for assistance?  By the time a brother becomes the Junior Warden, they should be seriously thinking about what it is they want to accomplish, as they work their way to the East.   Waiting until you assume office as the Worshipful Master to lay out your plans, is too late.   Planning at least a year in advance, putting together an annual calendar, asking brothers to assist in various capacities will greatly increase the chances of having a successful term of office.
Do they have the ability to listen?   Along with the planning process mentioned above, I am always looking for a good listener.   This individual knows that they cannot achieve success alone, and they are eager to hear what other brethren think and learn of their desires in helping make the lodge a success. 
Can they lead?  Being a leader is not simply a matter of issuing edicts and orders, but comes with a desire to serve others.   The term servant-leadership, was coined by Robert Greenleaf when he said, “The servant-leader is servant first…It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first.”  The servant-leader is in a position to help others grow, shares the power, and by doing so helps these individual achieve their greatest potential.
Do they have compassion?  One of most important and basic tenants of Freemasonry is caring for others, and not just when they are sick or in their darkest times.  Having compassion could simply mean having a conversation with a brother who is troubled, helping the widow with raking the leaves or being there in times of illness and distress.  But it also means setting the tone in the lodge, so that it becomes a welcoming place where brothers want to come back again and again, because they know someone truly cares.
There are any number of other characteristics that are also important, and your list might differ from mine.  But recall the next time your lodge is holding elections, that the privilege of voting in the lodge is one of our basic rights as Master Masons, but it also carries that important responsibility of being informed and casting a vote that will impact the future of your lodge.
Elections have consequences.
For more information on voting within the lodge, read these articles I wrote in 2012 “Voting is a Masonic Principal” part one and Voting is a Masonic Principal - Part II.   
WB Gregory J. Knott is the Past Master of St. Joseph Lodge No. 970 in St. Joseph (IL) and a plural member of Ogden Lodge No. 754 (IL), Homer Lodge No. 199 (IL) and Naval Lodge No. 4 in Washington, DC.  

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