Sunday, August 24, 2008

It's The Extra Touches That Separate The Good From The Great

Here is a list of the extra touches a master of a lodge can do that might make all the difference. Note: as I don't have an original bone in my body, I cannot claim any of these ideas for my own, but have seen other masters do these things.

Thank you cards. Buy 30 or 40 Masonic thank you cards before your year starts, and plan on using them all up before your year is through. See Macoy Publishing for a catalog. I use them for the following:

  • Guest speakers
  • Brothers from outside the lodge who help with a degree
  • Lodge brothers who do something exceptional
  • Brothers (and the spouse!) who host Lodge events at their home
  • Visiting DDGM and current Masters

The most important thing with thank you cards is that they have to be from the heart and timely. Do not wait a week, month, or more to go by when sending a card - do it ASAP!

Masonic Birthdays. My lodge sends out a card with a picture of the lodge officers on it and wishing them a happy Masonic birthday. The brother in charge of this prints them up for the month and mails them out. Very easy to do and inexpensive.

Birthdays. I spent an hour or so on the computer one day and put into Airset (see my second blog entry) every brother's birthday and telephone number. I then synched up my smartphone's calendar with Airset's calendar, and I had every brother's birthday with me at all times. Not only that, but every other officer had the information, also. When a birthday comes up, I click on the telephone number and wish the brother a happy birthday. The phone call lasts only a few minutes, and I'm not sure who feels better about the phone call, the brother or me. Now all the other officers, when they're master, has access to the same information and can continue this.

Lodge Shirts and Hats. I wanted to build some unity with the lodge brothers, and also a sense of pride in our lodge. The officers and I discussed this and thought a lodge polo shirt and hat would be a good idea. We figured out a logo and had a local embroiderer make the shirts. We sell them to the brothers at almost cost.

Trestleboard. Have a great Trestleboard and get it out on time! I found early on that the Trestleboard takes about four times longer than I thought it would. I also found out that my first one or two had a lot of errors in it - mostly stuff like brother's titles, etc. For your first Trestleboard, get it done really early, then run it past the secretary and a couple of past masters, for a head check.

Ritual Practice. Have one night a week for ritual practice and stick to it without fail.

Don't forget the widows. Don't forget the "Ladies of the Lodge," the widows. It is your job to call them after a big storm, to make sure they don't have any damage to their home, or to see if they are all right, if snowbound. Make sure to invite them to Ladies Night (free of charge, natch) and keep them informed of lodge events. While we have one officer who looks after the widows, I make sure to call them after a storm or other major event.

Attendance. As master, you must be at every possible event you can, without fail.

Informed. Keep your officers informed as to what is going on and who is doing what. This is where Airset really comes into it's own and will help you out. Don't pretend to have all the answers, share thoughts, ideas, and plans with your officersearly on, and they will all put in their ideas to make yours that much better.

Remember, as master, you set the tone for the lodge. Everyone is looking to you and how you act and react. If you step up and do the things you are supposed to do, and on time, that will set the tone for all to follow. In other, nonmasonic, organizations, I used to purposely set a tone of casualness, all the while still doing the job. I was hoping to show that while I looked like I didn't care, my actions and plans would show that I really did. I wanted to have a casual work environment but where everyone still got their work done. It was a dismal failure. All everyone ever saw was me not caring, so they didn't. In lodge, I have taken to heart the adage, model the way, and it works much better than what I was trying before!

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