by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bro. Randy Sanders
A good friend and Brother Joe Stewart just handed over the reins for the second lodge in two consecutive years to other strong leaders, and I want to spend a few moments to call out the achievement and scale. Worshipful Brother Joe Stewart was installed as Master of Missouri’s Naphtali Lodge #25 in 2019 while installed as Senior Warden of Wentzville Lodge #46. Just after the 2020 Naphtali installation, Worshipful Brother Joe was installed as Master of Wentzville Lodge #46 and served a very successful year in each Lodge. You read that correctly: two consecutive terms leading the craft as Master in each of two different lodges. All the while he was active in DeMolay and Rainbow youth organizations at Wentzville, active in Knights of St. Andrew, Valley of St. Louis AASR, Chapter, Council, AMD, and active within his family.
He deserves some time to cool down, and I hope he takes it. However, I know Brother Joe as one of my best friends, and I know his dedication to the craft. I admire his focus and dedication to making the most of his 24-inch gauge. It will be difficult for him to sit on the sidelines, and I know it’s only a matter of time before the offers come pouring in for him to assist here, take the helm there, and be active in whatever is next on his horizon.
There are some lessons we can learn from Worshipful Brother Joe, and observing his work I can only hope to pass these lessons along. Worshipful Brother Joe understands what it means to do what you can and that much of what happens is beyond your control. Sometimes that is frustrating, but putting your best foot forward still accomplishes goals. Maybe the goal wasn’t exactly what was planned, but success follows accomplishment. That’s my paraphrasing, but WB Joe embodies the spirit of getting things accomplished. He won the very first Craftsman Of The Year award our lodge decided to give annually.
Approach life with humor. WB Joe is quick with humor, makes the most of situations, and on the very few times I’ve ever seen him down, he had already started the process of climbing out of the hole of darkness. He had already refocused on the light and how to get back to making the best of the situation. Humor is an attitude, how it applies to you will be different in every situation. My lesson from my Brother Joe is to find the way to levity, even if only a short distraction, in order to keep everything in perspective.
Live within the chaos. We all have chaos in our lives, and WB Joe’s lesson here is understanding that everything has chaos, find a means of structure, and build on it. Maybe the lodge reconstruction isn’t exactly the most organized with tools and materials scattered, but a quick break, a good look around, and tracking down where that hammer went can go a long way toward creating your own mental structure of how that project is progressing. I witnessed Bro. Joe take charge through the chaos many times.
Celebrate your successes. It seems to me to be a natural, but many people don’t stop to celebrate the successes no matter how small the success, nor how small the celebration might be. Worshipful Brother Joe can take a 5-minute breather and celebrate the progress made, and it inspires others around to get more done.
We can all take a moment, as leaders in this fraternity, to understand the above. Many of us already do much of the same in our own ways, and many of us, me included, can benefit from a bit of work toward our attitude and how we approach projects, the lodge, the brethren, and our lives. Be like Joe.
Bro. Randy and his wife Elyana live near St. Louis, Missouri, USA. Randy earned a Bachelors's Degree in Chemistry with an emphasis in Biochemistry, and he works in Telecom IT management. He volunteers as a professional and personal mentor, NRA certified Chief Range Safety Officer, and enjoys competitive tactical pistol, rifle, and shotgun. He has 30 plus years teaching Wing Chun Kung Fu, Chi Kung, and healing arts. Randy served as a Logistics Section Chief on two different United States federal Disaster Medical Assistance Teams over a 12-year span. Randy's Masonic bio includes past Lodge Education Officer for two Symbolic Lodges, Founder of the Wentzville Lodge Book Club, member of the Grand Lodge of Missouri Education Committee, Sovereign Master of the E. F. Coonrod AMD Council No. 493, Co-Librarian of the Scottish Rite Valley of St. Louis, Clerk for the Academy of Reflection through the Valley of Guthrie, and a Facilitator for the Masonic Legacy Society. Randy is a founding administrator for Refracted Light, a full contributor to Midnight Freemasons, and an international presenter on esoteric topics. Randy hosts an ongoing weekly Masonic virtual Happy Hour on Friday evenings. Randy is an accomplished home chef, a certified barbecue judge, raises Great Pyrenees dogs, and enjoys travel and philosophy.
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