Do Titles Really Tell You Who a Man is?

by Senior Midnight Freemason Contributor
Gregory J. Knott 33° 

In recent articles here on the Midnight Freemasons, RWB Robert Johnson and WB

and Managing Editor Darin Lahners, spoke about the topic of leadership.   RJ specifically laid

out a case where it wasn’t the responsibility of Freemasonry to teach leadership.   He didn’t imply that you can’t learn leadership within Freemasonry, his thesis is that leadership is not a core tenant that Freemasonry needs to teach.

Darin in a subsequent article made an argument that the leadership problems we have within Freemasonry are largely attributable to membership issues.  Specifically, our organizations are suffering because our numbers are down and we no longer attract the kind of men who would ideally aspire to the highest levels of responsibility within our masonic organizations.

One needs to only look at current events to see how leadership impacts the direction of an organization.   For example, the Grand Lodge of Texas is in turmoil, which has led one Past Grand Master to file a lawsuit against the Grand Lodge of Texas.  A past Sovereign Grand Commander of the Scottish Rite NMJ released a lengthy letter with his views on his accomplishments and why he was asked to step aside.

Both RJ’s and Darin’s well-written articles have had me thinking deeply about the role and place of leadership within not only masonic organizations but in all organizations more broadly.   One question in particular was on my mind; if leadership is something that is not the primary responsibility of Freemasonry, then why do we spend so much time on titles and positions of authority when we are introducing Masonic brethren?

Just take a look at the short biographies of those who are contributors to this blog, including myself.  We all have titles of past positions of responsibility we have held i.e. DDGM, Past Master, lodge secretary, webmaster, membership chairman, etc.  Some of us had been given honors such as the 33rd degree from the Scottish Rite or made fellows in masonic research organizations.  Aren’t all of these simply functional titles that don’t really tell you much about the character of a man?

Would it not be better to just drop off all the titles, positions, initials, degrees, etc., and introduce someone by the characteristics they exhibit?  For example, let me rewrite a few of the bios of the Midnight Freemasons:

Robert Johnson - RJ is a deeply caring individual who has a love of his family and the masonic craft.   His commitment and dedication to masonic education have made not only a profound difference in the craft but more importantly helped other men understand the need to expand their knowledge of the craft that will help make them a better person.  His determination and tireless efforts have helped me become a better man.  He never forgets to send a thank you note or a word of encouragement, these have helped me more than you know. Thank you, RJ.

Darin Lahners - Darin has a heart of gold, his willingness to help others and putting himself secondary is undeniable.   He is extremely loyal to his family, brothers and friends.   He will never hesitate to offer you a kind word.  His ever-deepening understanding of the craft has helped motivate others, including myself to look inward at myself and how we can all help the world become a better place.  Since becoming married to Lisa, he has grown tremendously every day and has become a better man.   Thank you, Darin.

Todd E. Creason - Todd has become a man of deep faith and convictions.  He uses his humor to help others understand the relationship they can have with God.  He illustrates that faith can be lived in your everyday life.  He is a friend to many and is always willing to lend an attentive ear.  His devotion to his family is without end.  In the journey of life, you will find fewer true friends than Todd.   Thank you, Todd.

Bill Hosler - Bill is a man of strong resilience.  He will always get you laughing and has a wit coupled with that sense of humor that is contagious.  Bill has a strong sense of duty to others, be it working on promoting masonic social media, giving a kind word to a friend or simply helping promote the values and tenets of this fraternity.  His loving devotion to his partner Tammy is obvious.  Bill’s views of the world have helped enlighten me and strengthen my belief in this fraternity. Thank you, Bill.

Brian L. Pettice - Brian is a quiet and reserved person who is deeply insightful of not only freemasonry but more importantly of how our principles and tenets can be utilized in our daily lives.   He is a living true example of who I think of when I think of a Freemason.  His love of his family is obvious and his work with the Demolay in helping build and guide our youth to become better young persons is nothing short of inspiring.   His example as a Mason has made me a better person.   Thank you, Brian.

It’s been my privilege to meet so many men of high character on my journey in this fraternity, including many who have held lofty positions of leadership.  As I age, titles and awards really don’t mean as much to me as the individual characteristics of those brothers who have inspired me and helped me along in this journey of life. 

Effective leadership is essential for any organization to thrive, but it needs to be underpinned by men of character who have the best interests of others as their focus and not simply chasing a title or position.  


Greg Knott is married to Brooke and has two adult children Riley and Hayden.  He hopes to have left the world better than he found it.

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