What’s the Rush?
by Thomas Hauder, PGM
Recently, I had a conversation with a young Brother that was a bit confusing. It struck me that his Lodge was in a perfect position but they didn’t realize it. The crux of the matter was that while they had plenty of candidates for degree work in their Lodge, they couldn’t get to them fast enough, whatever that means. My personal opinions about One Day degrees aside, I couldn’t figure out what the problem was or why they were in such a rush.
Part of the issue, as seen by this Brother, was that if too much time (a quantity which he could not define) passed between the man wanting to be a Mason and the Lodge raising him, he would loose interest in the Craft. Really? If that is the case, you did a poor job of explaining Masonry to this man and/or he shows that he makes emotional decisions without great thought. Either way, not a good start.
First let’s talk about the process of asking a man to become a Mason and how we explain it. This is one of the most difficult things to do as much of what you’d like to share are things that cannot be shared prior to raising. Therefore, you need to work in an area that tells him how much it’s changed your life with concrete examples. Talk about the basic lessons, the learning, the fellowship, the history of Masonry, the things it offers if you work at it. But most of all, make sure he understand that Masonry is a LIFE LONG pursuit! One does not become a better man just because he has a membership card to a Lodge. You become better by working at the things that Masonry teaches, making mistakes, gaining knowledge and trying again. Over a lifetime of work, you will, bit by bit, become a better man. This makes joining Masonry an “extremely weighty” decision that should not be made lightly.
Next, if the proposed candidate is correctly introduced to Masonry but still makes a flash decision and wants to be raised immediately, then in my opinion, he missed the message or is unsuitable as a Mason. Like all truly good things in life, becoming a Mason takes work and time. If he is not willing to take that time or respect that the process is best done at a proper pace and not rushed through, there is a much greater chance he will become quickly dissatisfied with Masonry and leave. So look closely at how he makes decisions in his life, how he respects traditions and protocol and then make a decision about having him as a candidate. If he has to be a Mason RIGHT NOW and can’t wait a few weeks for the experience that will last him a lifetime, I would submit that is a red flag.
Finally, it is important to be cognizant of the power of deferred or delayed gratification on our lives. The plain truth is that which we value the most, we worked for or waited for the most. Think about your first car, first love or first child for example. If you could just walk out and gain these things on demand the moment it occurred to you that you wanted them, they would have little value. Don’t believe me? Can you find the free pen the bank gave you? Probably not but I’m betting you know exactly where your $200 Mont Blanc pen is that you got as a graduation or retirement gift. Look at your own history with everything from relationships, to careers, to learning and more. Look at the great Masons in history and you will see this concept of deferred gratification at work.
(For more information on how this works in our lives, click here.)
So what do we do with a candidate while we are waiting to make him a Mason? We include him in anything that the Lodge is doing that is not a tyled meeting! Invite him to dinners, fund raisers, outings. Invite him to come to the monthly meeting and have whomever is going to be his mentor (you do use mentors in your Lodge, right?) to sit with him in the outer room and talk about Masonry. You could even give him a copy of Masonry for Dummies or Masonry for Idiots and answer his questions about what he has read. In other words, there is no reason to just let the candidate be idle while he is waiting for his degree work. This waiting period can and should be very productive for the candidate and the Lodge! If you do this, by the time the Lodge is ready to do the work, he will be a much better candidate, listen closer, learn more and be better bonded to the Lodge.
So, what’s the rush?