1. Understand and accept that you will make mistakes. No matter how prepared you are, no matter how much ritual you know, or how well you know it, no matter how many times you may have been in the chair before, you will make mistakes. The point is to own them, don’t hide from them, and take responsible courses of action to fix them. Fortunately, most mistakes are not egregious, therefore rarely fatal, so we can, and should, learn, laugh, and move on.
2. You ARE your Ritual Proficiency. You both know the ritual, AND can perform it well, or not. There is no middle ground on this. As an officer, and you set the example. If you don’t know your ritual, at best you are encouraging others to follow your example, and at worst, you are insulting all those Brothers who took the time and effort to learn theirs. Period.[editor] In comment, mistakes will happen. Mistakes can be forgiven. Not knowing your ritual is not a mistake. It is a direct abandonment of the responsibilities of the office.
3. No matter how much “freemasonry” you know, someone else will always know more. Such an individual can teach you some new things if you ask. Seek and accept input from others, especially when you think it’s not needed.
4. Don’t “change things” without consultation. There’s a fine line between “fixing” something that is wrong/incorrect and reinventing the wheel and abandoning centuries held initiatic experiences. Know the difference, and pursue stylistic changes within the framework of a community change, not as a lone enforcer. Also, before changing anything, find out why it is done. Someone in your Lodge knows. Pick up the phone and make a new friend – ask why.
5. Treat others with respect, deference, and patience. The mark of a gentleman is how well he treats those who are of no use to him.
6. The only constant in the world is change. Be open to it and accept it with a smile. Look at each change as a new challenge, not as some serious inconvenience to be fought.
7. The only true authority stems from knowledge, not from position. Knowledge engenders authority, and authority engenders respect. If you want respect in an egoless environment, cultivate knowledge.
8. Fight for what you believe, but gracefully accept defeat. Understand that sometimes your ideas will be overruled. Even if you do turn out to be right, don’t take revenge or say, “I told you so” more than a few times at most, and don’t make your dearly departed idea a martyr or rallying cry.
9. Don’t be “that guy in the room.” Don’t be the guy who always has something negative to say. Don’t be that guy who knows more than everyone else. Don’t be the only guy who can do it right. Don’t be that guy. Don’t be that guy who gets insulted when others don’t see how glorious you are. Don’t be the only guy in the room making a decision or having an idea. Don’t be that guy who never sees positives in others’ work. Don’t be that guy who is too thin-skinned to share with his Brothers. That guy is out of touch, out of sight, and out of control and has no place in an open, collaborative environment such as a Lodge.
10. Critique work instead of people. Be kind to the individual, not to the Work. As much as possible, make all of your comments positive and oriented to improving the Work. Relate comments to local standards, increased performance, etc.
BONUS: You are NOT your title. Correctly speaking, as Grand/Right/Worshipful Master, you are properly addressed as Brother Hiram Abiff, Worshipful Master, not Worshipful Brother Hiram Abiff. Even if your Grand Lodge Code states that you are Grand, Right and Worshipful, refer to yourself as Brother first, and only. You are but a temporary custodian of your office, act as such.
By Brother Jason A. Mitchell, Wasatch Lodge № 1, F&AM Salt Lake City, Utah.