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THE MASONIC SERVlCE ASSOCIATION
OF THE UNITED STATES
Silver Spring, Malyland 20910~785
Tel: (301) 588~010
IDEAS AND LEADERSHIP
By: Allen E. Roberts
Bro. Allen Roberts is one of Freemasonry's
most talented and respected authors. He has
written many books, and articles, and has
always strongly supported Masonic Education
and Leadership Training. In this STB, Bro.
Roberts explains the importance of effective
leadership and how the newly created Masonic
Leadership Center can be of help to all
Leadership! This is the key to Freemasonry's
growth. (And we believe we can offer some
Leadership. It must be the key that unlocks the
door to Freemasonry's potential. Digesting and
using ideas are the backbone of leadership. This
pierces and destroys apathy. It's the key that
unlocks constructive leaders.
A good leader motivates other people to get
things done! This is a fact that has been known
and stressed for hundreds of years. The constructive leader realizes he must depend on others to accomplish his goals.
Thomas Edison, one of the greatest inventors
of any age, told us why he was successtul. He
said he was an awfully good sponge; that most
of the ideas he developed were those of other
people. Edison evaluated those ideas, adapted
them and adopted goals for himself.
They became his goals. By perfecting these
ideas, and directing his associates, he was able
to achieve his objectives. This is fine, if there is
only one person--you--to consider. It' s entirely ditferent when we're working for an organization. Then these goals must be set by everyone involved. My goals are fine, but they are
mine alone. You may, or may not, help me
reach them. But if we establish goals together,
they become our goals. We then stand an
excellent chance of reaching them.
Every seminar and workshop I conducted for
over 40 years began with this statement: Every
person in this room knows something no one
else knows. The truth of this statement becomes
quickly apparent. By bringing together this
vast store of knowledge, everyone becomes the
We've often heard stories about the reinven-
tion of the wheel. The wise leader seeks meth-
ods to improve on this creation of the stone age.
Brother Henry Ford did it when he gave us the
horseless carriage. He not only improved the
wheel, he enhanced the means of travel. He did
so by developing the ideas of those who had
come before him. This helped him change the
life of every person on earth, forever! Then
along came others to improve on what Ford had
There's a lesson in this one example that every
leader should follow. The automobile of today
wasn't conceived and designed from nothing; it
benefited from what Ford, and those who came
before him, developed. Countless man hours
and millions of dollars were saved to use for
Consider what I call "the miracle of television." Those of my generation can remember
the first crude radios. We can look back and follow the improvements through today, from the
ideas of yesterday, and expect further advancements tomorrow. These ideas have been incorporated into television and the other means of
communication we enjoy, and too often take for
It's not difficult to consider another "miracle"--the personal computer. Even a younger
generation than mine can look back on the day
the electric typewriter was a wonderful invention. Fortunately, along came the "space age"
with its inventions of better means of commu-
The computer was far out of reach of all but the
wealthiest businesses. There were a few, thank
goodness, working to change this situation. The
world of communication has been completely revolutionized!
It doesn't take much thinking to understand
why we have the "miracles" of today in communication. Constructive leaders improved on
the ideas that began thousands of years ago.
From the sticks used for drawing, to chisels, to
quills, to ink and pen, to type, and then
Gutenberg's movable type. This latter freed
people from ecclesiastical bondage by making
the printed word available to all.
No longer did the "average" person have to
depend on the translations of a few learned clerics for the knowledge available. No longer did
man have to learn by "mouth to ear." Books
became more and more prevalent. Libraries
began to become accessible. Schools expanded. Other means of accumulating and disseminating information grew.
What has this to do with Freemasonry?
Everything, I hope.
For hundreds of years Freemasonry has been
the leading fratemal organization in the world.
It has set the mode for the morality of man. It
has stood for justice for all peoples. It has been
far ahead of its time.
How can I say that? By researching the past.
If we follow the history of our operative brethren we learn how they constantly improved
their methods of building. They continually
modified the ideas and methods of other
masons and builders. The cathedrals, castles,
and other buildings that have withstood the ravages of time are testimonials to their continual
From the far flung lodges, or guilds, came an
attempt to associate the operative masons with
speculative associates. The men who had been
admitted to the builders' guilds who were not
craftsmen, wanted the lessons of the operatives
perpetuated. This brought some of the members
of four English lodges together in 1717. From
this meeting evolved the Freemasonry we follow
Some criterion had to be developed to bring
order out of what could be chaos. So, James
Anderson, a Presbyterian minister, was chosen
to do the job. He solicited all the old writings
available about the operative craft. From these
documents he compiled the Constitution of the
Free-Masons, which the Grand Lodge of
England adopted in 1723. His history of the
craft, which he found in the old documents, has
been termed, rightly, as "fanciful." But the
Charges and regulations are, for the most part,
still followed today.
Among these we find: Charge IV: Officers must
be chosen by merit, not by seniority or
favoritism; apprentices must be capahle of
learning the art and being of service; work must
be learned before becoming a Warden; a Master
must have served as a Warden; a Grand Master
must have served as a Master.
We find that even in the 1720s the importance
of good management and constructive leadership were emphasized. But actually, we can
trace the ideals of management to the Old
Testament of the Holy Bible. Among many such
lessons we find Jethro teaching Moses how to be
a good manager. He suggested Moses delegate
authority and responsibilities; how to set up an
organization much as the large, successful, corporations are structured today.
This means that leaders will surround themselves with subordinates who will tell them the
truth. It's easy for men to attempt to be popular
by always agreeing with the "boss," even when
they know he's wrong. But this can, and often
does, lead to disaster for the boss. Being encircled by "yes men" can destroy a would-be
Artic]e V in the Constitutions tells us that Freemasons must perform honest work for fair
wages. And the Grand Lodge must approve the
working tools. It is, therefore, necessary for the
leadership at the top to be the best it's possible
to find. The top leaders set the tone for their
whole jurisdiction. Obstructive, or poor, leaders
suppress growth; constructive leaders will help
their Lodges and members reach for the stars.
Freemasonry, like most non-profit and commercial organizations, is not totally democratic.
This makes it all the more necessary for
Freemasonry's leadership to be constructive.
The iron fist the leader can use must be enclosed
in a velvet glove. In a voluntary organization,
such as Freemasonry, the leader can order no
man to do anything.
For over 75 years The Masonic Service Association has provided information to Grand
Lodges and Lodges throughout the country. Far
too much of this invaluable information has
The Conferences of Grand Masters and Grand
Secretaries have provided excellent information
that could have produced phenomenal results
for the Craft. Much of this information has been
spoken and recorded in Masonic Educational
Conferences such as the Midwest and
Northeast. What was spoken, taught and recorded has been, for the most part, buried so deeply
it has rarely been employed. The thousands of
hours and dollars that went into the planning
This isn't as it should be. A few Masonic leaders have pleaded for years for the establishment
of a central location where leadership and educational material could be stored. Merely storing it, however, is only part of the answer. The
information must also be cataloged, indexed,
reviewed, then made readily available for all
Grand Lodges truly interested in educating their
leaders and members.
Over forty years ago I coined this phrase:
There can be no dedication without
Education; Leadership provides the background.
The means is now available for Freemasonry
to develop the leadership it must have to remain
a viable force for good. By teaching
Freemasons how to be leaders Freemasonry can
have thousands of Master Masons dedicated to
the principles of our Fraternity. This will con-
tinue the growth of the Fraternity. Freemason.s
who understand Freemasonry will be teaching
and working with Freemasons.
How has this important stage been reached?
Why can Freemasonry stop reinventing the
wheel, but continue to improve on it.s design
The George Washington Masonic National
Memorial Association's Board of Directors
offered its l:acilities for a Masonic Leadership
Center. The Philalethes Society, a small
Masonic research body, contributed enough
money to the Center for the minimum necessities to get it started. One of the Society's members,
Paul M. Bessel, agreed to act as the Center's
Executive Secretary. Others have volunteered
to help. They will review transactions and
books, then index them for the Center.
Much information is now available. Time,
patience and the assistance of volunteers will
provide the Masonic leadership with tested
programs they can then modify for their Grand
Lodges. There will be no cost to Grand Lodges
and appendant bodies for this information,
although monetary contributions will gladly be
accepted. Transactions, books, programs, and
other educational items pertai.....
Freemasonry are solicited.
For information, contact:
Masonic Leadership Center
101 Callahan Drive
Alexandria, Virginia 22301