Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Earning your spot

I hold in my hand a little scrap of paper, 2 1/2 x 3 1/2 inches in size.  It is of no intrinsic worth.

It's not a check. It's not a bond, nor is it a receipt for valuables, yet it is one of my most prized possessions. It represents my membership in my Masonic Lodge.

It tells me that I have entered into a spiritual kinship with my Masonic brothers to practice charity in words and deeds, to forgive and to forget their faults, to hush the tongues of scandal and innuendos, to remember that it is the internal and not the external to care for the crippled, the hungry and the sick, and to be fair and just toward all mankind.

It tells me that no matter where I may travel in the world, I will be welcomed to visit a place where good fraternal friendship prevails.  It tells me that my home, my household, and my family are under the protection of every member of this great fraternity who have sworn to protect and defend theirs.  It tells me that should I ever be overcome by misfortunes, thru no fault of my own, the hands of every member of this fraternity made aware, would be outstretched to aid in my necessities.

It tells me that when my final exit has been made from the stage of life, there will be gathered around my lifeless remains, friends and brothers who will recall to their minds my virtues, though they may be few, and forgive and forget my faults, though they may be many.

It tells me that and a great deal more, and makes me happy that I can obtain a passport into a society of friends and brothers that are numbered in the millions.

I hold in my hand a little scrap of paper, 2 1/2 x 3 1/2 inches in size. It is of no intrinsic worth, yet I hope it will become one of your most prized possessions. For it represents your membership in the Masonic Fraternity.

I am sure that many of you have heard this recited to new candidates when they "earn" their dues card.  I would like to propose to you, what if we each had to "earn" our dues card each year? Would you be able to earn yours?  What if we each had to provide examples of the way we live our lives, as true and faithful Brethren of the craft?  Have we each done our duties to God, our Country, our neighbors and ourselves?  What have I done to earn my spot here in the greatest fraternity in the world?  Do I serve my lodge and support its goals, or do I just like to wear the fancy rings and sport the cool emblem on my car?  I would hope that each of us could say without a doubt that they earn their place here every year.  If you can't, it is never too late to start.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Make a Difference

I recently had the opportunity to attend a seminar presented by Dr. Tom Mayer an ED physician and expert on customer service.  During his presentation he told the following story.

There was a well to do business man who worked very, very hard in his day to day life, he took one week a year to spend with his family and they always vacationed in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. One evening during the week a sudden a fierce storm blew in, a storm so strong that the beach was flooded and water washed clear up to the line of ocean front houses where the Business Man and his family were staying.  Anyone that has ever been to this area knows that the houses are built on stilts for this very reason, the family hunkered down and made it through the night without incident.  The next morning the Business Man awoke and decided to take a walk on the beach.  As he walked out of the house and down to the beach he was awe struck when he realized there were hundreds if not thousands of Starfish for as far as the eye could see on the beach.  The man decided that he would still take his walk, he looked to the left and then to the right trying to decide which way to walk.  He noticed a figure far off in the distance to the left, so he decided to set off in that direction.  As he walked it seemed that every Starfish in the sea had washed up on the beach and as the waters had receded back to their normal levels it was obvious that they would all perish.  After a nice brisk twenty minute walk he realized that the figure he had seen was a young girl, she was bending over and standing up repeatedly.  As he drew near he realized she was picking up one starfish at a time and cleaning them of and then placing them back in the water.  The Business Man approached the young girl and said "I don't want to seem rude, but you are wasting your time look at all of these you can't possibly make a difference.  The young girl pondered for a moment and then looked at the one she had in her hand and said "I am for this one." She placed it gently in the water and picked up the next.

You may ask what do Starfish have to do with Freemasonry?  While this seminar was meant to drive home the importance of customer service in my everyday job, the more I pondered on it the more I could see how it applies to my Masonic life as well.  During almost every event or meeting I attend, both locally and at the state level, I hear why we can't do certain things.  Such as, we are just a small lodge we don't have enough help for that.  We can't afford to do something like that or whatever the excuse is for not being successful or try new things.

My challenge to you is to start looking at things like the young girl instead of the Business Man.  Start small, don't complain about the poor attendance at meetings.  Ask each officer to pick up the phone and make a personal call to five members of the lodge and invite them out to the meeting.  If only three or four of these Brethren come out for the meeting it is three of four more than usual, declare it a win.  With any luck one or two of these may remember why they initially joined and come back for the next meeting.

Pick off easy wins, ask your officers to accompany you to another lodges meeting and go as a group.  This not only gives you an excuse to have a boys night out, the other lodge may just reciprocate  and show up at your next meeting.  You could also go as a group to one of the youth organizations meetings they are always thrilled to have us attend and how our support instead of just sponsoring them in name.

Sometimes I think we get so tied up in being disappointed because we can't reach our ultimate goals that we quit taking steps to achieving them and become stagnate and therefore do nothing.  I would ask you to consider how you see the world.  Are you the young girl or the business man?  Is it better to take small steps and make small improvements or just be content with the way things are let all of the Starfish die?