Sunday, August 24, 2008

Lodge Officer Training

One of the most important things a master of a lodge is to do in his year is to ensure his officers receive not only ritual training but also officer training. Here are some ideas on officer training:

Re-inventing the Wheel

One of my pet peeves is people trying to re-invent the wheel. In my lodge, (Anonymous Lodge No. 001), we traditionally have a terrible time with officer line continuity, especially with past masters dropping out of sight. Fortunately this has turned around in the past year or three, but we still suffer from a lack of officer institutional memory and have to re-invent the wheel vis a vis “how do we plan this event,” or, “how did we do event XYZ last year?” This really drives me nuts and is a grotesque waste of everyone’s time and resources. As master, insist that all events be planned out beforehand and shared with the other officers. Most importantly, these plans have to be available to all this year’s officers as well as next year’s officers, so you don’t have to re-invent the wheel the next time around. See my blog entry titled, Web 2.0, It’s Just not for Geeks! and look at the Airset section for a great tool on how to do this.

Weekly Lodge Ritual Class

To me, one of the most important Masonic training we can do is to have a weekly lodge ritual class. There are many benefits to this, to include:

· Officers get ritual practice in their chair and for the next chair

· A common bond of brotherly affection and trust is formed among the officers

· Can be a place where grievances and differences of opinion can be aired face-to-face

Sometimes my lodge officers and I have even skipped the ritual practice and held an informal officers meeting to discuss the goings on of the lodge and have a question answer session with the more experienced Masons present.

Masonic Educational Officers

One of your first resources for officer training is your lodge and district DEOs. They should already be providing officer training for your lodge and district, but if not, contact him and set up an officers training meeting. Be sure to tell them your specific areas of concern.

Grand Lodge

The Grand Lodge of Virginia holds Lodge leadership training sessions every year around the Commonwealth, and I’m sure the other Grand Lodges do the same for their states. Be sure to go to these and strongly encourage your officers to do the same. Offer to carpool to the event – the officers will feel more compelled to attend! Carpooling is also a great time to discuss the training with the officers on the way home.

Army Method of Instruction

While in the US Army and Army Reserves, one of my units was the 91st Training Division. All members of the division were either drill sergeants, instructors, or support. I was an instructor, and as such, took a short course on how to do my job. The Army method seems to work well in addressing all modalities of learning – listening to instruction, watching the task performed, and then doing the task. Anyone who has been through US Armed Forces basic training in the past 30 or more years will remember, “Maggots, in this block of instruction you will receive an explanation, demonstration, and a practical application of...” This method works well and I have tried to adopt it into training in the Lodge, except for calling everyone “maggot” of course!

People do best if they hear what they are supposed to do, then see it done, and then under supervision, do it themselves. This makes for a more active and interesting class. My lodge has recently had to use the alternate method of instruction for new candidates, due to a dearth of catechism instructors. The primary mentor is himself an Army veteran and uses this method to good success. In addition, he also assigns readings to the candidates to do on their own time.


On the Job training, or Supervised On the Job Training, is another method of training. As master, you really can’t be too hands-on and have to delegate tasks to officers. Give clear written instructions and deadlines to an officer tasked with something. Also give him points of contact so he has place to turn to for help. Learning by doing is an effective method!


Before going off into internet land, check with your grand lodge to see if they have online officer training resources.

The internet is full of Masonic officer training websites:

· Grand Lodge of Maine’s Hiram’s Handbook is a great tool

· Lodge

· So You’re Going to be Worshipful Master! is somewhat dated, but still has some good information

· Lodge Improvement Suggestions

· The Masonic Trowel

The above links should get you started.

Model the Way

An often overlooked facet of training is that of the master modeling the way. Modeling the way is one of the five leadership practices in Kouzes and Posner’s fantastic leadership book, The Leadership Challenge. What is meant by modeling the way is for you to demonstrate to your officers how you expect a master of a lodge to act.

Please click on the comments section of this blog entry and let me know your ideas for Masonic officer training.


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