From Damien of Lodge Devotion
One often hears that Freemasonry is about "making good men better". We also hear, and are indeed told in our ritual, that Freemasonry is a Progressive Science. Why and how this is achieved are issues that are not as clear as these two simple statements.
Our current Worshipful Master has decided I am to assist him and the Director in the running of the South.
The concept is that this experience will assist in properly equipping the Junior Warden for Mastership, prior to assuming the "top job" in the Lodge. Of course, while the Master has delegated duties to me, he cannot delegate responsibility nor accountability and as such always remains in command of the Lodge.
When discussing the idea of the Junior Warden performing the duties of a “Dining President” in the South, our WM sighted that the Junior Warden is supposed to oversea the Lodge on behalf of the Master when it is “at refreshment”. WM Paterson expressed a strong opinion that it was important to allow Master Masons opportunities for self-improvement and prepare them for future leadership roles in the Craft. Other Past Masters at Devotion, including our DC, agreed, and along with our Distinct Coordinator – they all thought this was an excellent way to extend the abilities of Junior Wardens and add to their preparation as they progress to Master. So, for the last few meetings I have performed many of the duties often carried out by Directors of Ceremonies at other lodges while they are "at refreshment".
I have a lot of experience in public speaking and have been “the man in front” in many capacities and settings, including business and community activities. I was a little skeptical as to what I would gain from taking a more active role in the South. Indeed our WM stated the same, but I have been surprised to find this role is teaching me things about myself and how to harmoniously and effectively “get things done”.
For many who have not had the opportunity to be the focus of an occasion or held leadership positions within organizations – extending the Warden's roles should be seen as a critical competent of preparing for Mastership. It is all very well reading a manual – but there is nothing like practice to make perfect – especially under the helpful guidance of WM and Past Masters prior to assuming the Chair.
Acting as Dining President has made me learn that I have a certain leadership style which may not be appropriate at certain times, especially the time discipline required to run a smooth South. I have been surprised by some of the lessons I have learnt while performing this function. I was not excepting Freemasonry to teach me these lessons. I am grateful for the concern and thought of our Worshipful Master and other members in finding ways to add relevance and meaning to membership of the Craft for Master Masons like myself. The senior leaders of Devotion are doing some careful and steady work to ensure that those they “hand the baton” onto are best equipped to take on this challenge.
Certainly this support, development and interest in Master Masons is typical of the attitudes and inclusiveness at Devotion. Master Masons in other Lodges often bemoan how that are treated like passengers, ignored and underutilized. This is not the case at Devotion where the leaders of the Lodge actively look for ways to engage and cultivate the abilities of Master Masons, make “good men better”, and insure that indeed Freemasonry is indeed a Progressive Science.