Understanding Your duties and Being Prepared
By Grand Master Dwight M. “Mack” Sigmon
Brethren, it is a busy time in our grand jurisdiction as we have been traveling across the state holding our annual district meetings. I am thankful for the warm hospitality that I have received in my travels. The respect shown to the office of grand master is a humbling experience. This is also a time when many of our educational programs are swinging into full gear.
Wilkerson College is under way and beginning its 18thyear. After the completion of the 2018 class, 524 students have graduated from Wilkerson College since its inception in 2002. The 2019 class is very special as this year for two special reasons.
First, it is the largest class ever conducted, with 60 students attending. This year will serve as an evaluation process whereby we structure our classes in a manner allowing us to serve more students in each location. At the end of the sessions, we will evaluate adjustments that may be necessary, and structure the program to consistently meet higher demands when necessary.
Second, it marks the year of the 100thbirthday of Worshipful Brother Maj. Gen. H. Lloyd Wilkerson, USMC (retired), for whom the school was named. He was also the first Master of Wilkerson College #760. Since 2012, I have been honored to have served as the Dean of Admissions of the College. I am a part of a great team of officers fully dedicated to the mission of the College. To date, we have had 150 lodges take advantage of the special training provided to deacons of lodges across the state. Fourteen new lodges are sending students to the college for the first time in 2019. However, that means 207 lodges still have not experienced the benefits of the leadership training that the college provides. Being master of a lodge can be challenging at times. The curriculum set forth by the college is an excellent resource to better prepare principal officers to face those challenges head-on.
The Davie Academy is another resource offered by our grand jurisdiction that is available for other non-deacon officers and any member not currently eligible to attend Wilkerson College. The curriculum provides similar training, but in one-day segments specializing in subjects to help manage the operation of a lodge.
If you are looking to improve your knowledge of allegory and symbolism, the Middle Chamber program is available a few times each year. North Carolina is blessed to have wonderful training and education programs available for its members. I hope you will choose to take advantage of some of these while traveling on your Masonic journey.
For officers and potential officers, it is extremely important that you understand the duties and responsibilities of each office prior to accepting your specific office. I encourage you to thoroughly study the Code. This gives an excellent overview of what is expected of you when you assume a position of responsibility. Many problems that arise in a Masonic lodge could have been avoided if more time would have been allotted to researching our Code. The Installing Officer charges each new Master: “The Book of Constitutions (The Code) and the By-Laws of your lodge you are to search at all times. Cause them to be read in your lodge that none may pretend ignorance of their excellent precepts.”
Some of our lodges do an excellent job in providing short, concise Masonic education programs from the Code at their stated meetings. I encourage you to devote more time in understanding our rules and being better prepared. Consider asking someone to take the lead in becoming the Code training expert in your lodge. A well-educated lodge will always operate more smoothly.
Take the duties of your office seriously. You have been elected or appointed to a position of great responsibility. Don’t consider lower level offices as non-important. All positions in a lodge are important, otherwise they would not be needed or required. Too often there is a tendency to wait until the night you are installed to try and understand those duties explained to you by the Installing Officer. I encourage you to thoroughly study Chapter 59 of the Code.
For a lodge to operate smoothly, it is critical to understand what is expected of you as a leader before accepting your station or place. This also applies to learning your ritual parts. You will be best served and best prepared if you learn your ritual part a year in advance. I know this can be somewhat difficult when you experience unexpected officer vacancies requiring you to jump a position. I know we are a volunteer organization requiring a lot of time to perform the various duties and tasks required to operate as a lodge. I am confident you will find it to be an easier process when you are properly prepared. The lodge members and visitors will also notice the difference when attending a lodge well prepared to perform the task at hand, especially when the opening and closing of the lodge is performed properly and smoothly.
Being prepared is always the best approach. I have always tried to live by this simple rule. The time to start planning for an event, speech, or any position is the moment that you accept the opportunity, not waiting until a few days before you start.
In addition, it has always been my goal to serve any position to which I have been elected to or appointed to the very best of my ability and in such a manner that it would leave that position better than when I started.
This is not an easy goal but remember, Masonry is Work,but it is important work and well worth the effort