MORE LIGHT in MASONRY (IV)
TEAMWORK MAKES THE DIFFERENCE
by Allen E. Roberts
asked a fire chief what the most frequent cause of fires was. He said:
"Treasures in the attic that are too good to throw away, but which
are unfit for any use."
So, "treasures in the attic" cause conflagrations.
We've saved Father's old dried-out rocking chair, Grandmother's brittle
dressmaking patterns, Uncle John's soiled sports clothes,Aunt Suzie's musty
wedding gown and veil.
All, and more, have sentimental value. All cost money to acquire. Most
took a lot of effort to get at the time. All are equally useless and
harmless-until a wayward spark touches them. Most of us have "treasures in
the, attic of our minds" that we're not about to throw away. It took years of
study, considerable sums of money, and plenty of time and effort to acquire
these treasures. Why should we throw them away?
Because some of these "treasures" have become "fool's gold". Often our musty
ideas, our dried-out thinking, all the old knowledge acquired over a period of
years can be mare of a hazard than the treasures we've been storing in the
attic of our homes. Antiquated thinking can destroy men and organizations.
What we say and do, does affect those with whom we come in contact daily.
Only those who are completely isolated from life can afford to cling to the
useless treasures that clutter the attic of the mind.
Not too long ago I was feeling poorly. With some prodding from my wife I
visited my doctor. He's not my doctor just because he's a personal friend and
Brother. He's my doctor because I know that he keeps abreast of the changes
that are constantly taking place in medicine. He sets aside time to study, to
attend and participate in medical conferences. He teaches medical students and
He put me in a hospital for a series of tests. The tests, performed by experts
in their fields, disclosed a tumor in my colon. An operation was necessary. I
knew the surgeon well. I knew that he was constantly discarding old treasures
and storing up new ones. So, I didn't hesitate to let him take over.
There is no profession that touches the lives of men more than does medicine.
I know of no men who have a more difficult time in acquiring "treasures of the
mind". And I know of none that have to discard these treasures more
frequently. Those who discard them remain excellent doctors; those who don't
Actually, there isn't a field of endeavor in which man can stand still. Ever
since the day that Mrs. Franklin is supposed to have told Brother Benjamin to
go fly a kite, electricity has become a necessity. We couldn't get along today
without it. The computer runs on electricity. And the computer is an excellent
example of how treasures acquired with time, effort, study, and money are
Yet, these treasures are used as stepping-stones for something better. Even
the food we eat has changed. The way it's cooked, packaged, and served now
isn't like it was even a week ago. As we move about the country and world, we
try new recipes and our tastes change.
They change, that is, unless we're like the mountaineer who came to town and
saw a box of tangerines for the first time. "What are those?" he asked the
grocer. "Tangerines. Try one." "No, I reckon not," said the mountaineer. "I've
got so many tastes now I can't satisfy, I ain't aimin' to take on any more."
The mountaineer was being frugal, perhaps, but he wasn't adding to his
treasures. But the mountaineer isn't alone. Many of us "city slickers" aren't
adding to our treasures, either. Too many of us consider the old treasures
good enough. We aren't about to discard them and add new ones.
One "treasure" that has never been discarded, except in rare instances, is the
committee. Committees are everywhere. They exist from the parliament buildings
in Ottawa down to the smallest club in the country. Every Lodge and Grand
Lodge has committees. Committees, then, are "treasures" that should not be
discarded. Right? Wrong!
It has been said that a committee is a group of men who individually can do
nothing, but who can collectively decide that nothing can be done! A committee
has a chairman. To often the chairman is expected to do the work and the
thinking of the members.
The "committee" becomes a mockery; it's a one-man show. Example: the newscasts
on any given evening focus on the Parliamentary Committee Chairman; the name
of the Chairman is a household word; the rest of the members are kept so far
in the background they appear not to exist.
During workshops on Masonic education or Masonic law, I am often asked: "If
someone proposes something from the floor that I don't like, what should I
do?" "Give it to a committee, or appoint one," is my advice. "That will kill
More and more progressive organizations, even the Federal government, that
want to get things done, are steering away from committees. They are
appointing commissions, or even task forces. A few, too few, are using TEAMS.
It is the latter that really gets things moving. A TEAM is not a committee. It
is a group of individuals working together to achieve the goals of the
organization - the Lodge - that they have helped to establish. It has been
said "Get the best men you can find on the several teams. One caution, though.
Don't select men who think alike. We don't want a bunch of `yes men.' We want
men who think for themselves, men who will give us the action we need."
This selection of the men to make up the team is a critical point. The
unfortunate inclination everywhere is to surround ourselves with people who
think as we do. We do not really appreciate criticism. All of us would rather
have a pat on the back than a kick in the pants. But often it's the kick in
the pants that makes us stop to reflect, then do something better than we
would have done it before.
The goal, or goals, to be reached will determine what qualifications the
members of the team should have. In the first three parts of this series, we
laid the groundwork for setting goals. We need to determin who needs More
Light in Masonry-all of us; we need to discuss the needs to be met, and how to
find out what the members really want; and some steps to take to meet the
needs. We need to talk about planning; how to determine what the problems are;
and some methods for solving these problems.
Then determine the goals, to be effective, these goals must be set by all
concerned; this commitment can only come from within the person himself. The
overall goal, or objective, of every Masonic Lodge must be to fulfill the
PURPOSE of FREEMASONRY - to MAKE GOOD MEN BETTER. This means that every member
must become a Master Mason in every sense that this implies.
To accomplish this, every Freemason must be put to work for Freemasonry -
doing what he likes to do. The Worshipful Master can "Set the Craft to work
and give them proper instructions for their labor." He can do it by
establishing enough TEAMS to properly manage his Lodge. And to accomplish all
that his Lodge should, dozens of TEAMS can be set to work.
This is the answer to the well-informed Brother who wrote: "More Light in >
Masonry: Who Needs It?" . . . . I feel that a better title would be Who Wants
It?!!" He went on to write: "It was a sage who said: `You can lead a horse to
water, but you cannot make him drink. You can send a boy to college, but you
can't make him think'." To which Conrad Hahn truthfully replied: "He may be a
horse led to water, but a wise mentor, an individual with Masonic knowledge
and enthusiasm for imparting light to another individual, can, I believe, make
the water so palatable that the horse will have to drink in spite of himself.
Impossible? If it is, then Masonry is `impossible', i.e., no longer viable."
To keep active men interested in anything, they must be given something to do
that interests them. To arbitrarily appoint them to some existing committee
defeats the purpose you are trying to achieve. They aren't going to work at
something in which they have no interest.
How do we determine what interests a man? By asking him!
This simple solution is far too often overlooked.. As a candidate is working
with his instructor and, hopefully, his Mentor, the Teams working for the
Lodge should be explained to him. He should be asked to think about the Team
he would like to work with. If the one he wants to work with doesn't exist,
start a new one! It just might turn out to be the boot the Lodge needs.
A TEAM, properly balanced with men of differing opinions and knowledge, cannot
be static. It must move forward. It will be dynamic. It will set goals for
itself that no Master, or any other leader, would dare to. In endeavoring to
reach those goals it will create enthusiasm in the whole Lodge.
All of us have seen this happen. It may not have been in our own Lodge, but in
one close by. For example: a small group of members believes the Lodge should
have a new Temple. They convince others of the need; the enthusiasm begins to
build' up. Soon the consensus of opinion in the Lodge causes the Master to
appoint a committee to investigate the situation and report back. The
committee, fortunately, works as a Team (and it usually does in a case such as
this). The Lodge ends up with a new Temple. Why? In all important situations
like this, the Master wisely appoints a group of men of differing temperaments
and knowledge. Each is a specialist in his own field. Each reports his
findings to the group. There is a lot of discussion, a lot of give and take.
Seldom, if ever, is a vote taken among the group. It arrives at a consensus of
This later phrase - consensus. of opinion-is the "secret" to the success of
teamwork. Consensus is not a majority vote. One over fifty percent becomes a
majority. Anyone who loses by only one vote isn't going to be happy. The
chances of the majority winning his support are slim. Usually the objections
of the fellow who loses haven't been listened to, and those objections may
have been valid. He is frustrated.
Often he'll leave the meeting talking about the "clique" that runs the Lodge.
And he's probably correct!
When we reach a consensus of opinion, all the arguments, pro and con, have
been heard, weighed, and discussed openly and fully. The group has worked
together as a TEAM. It has agreed that the final alternative is the best that
can be obtained at the time and under the circumstances. We may not end up
with exactly what we want, but what we do have is acceptable. Teamwork is
constructive. It puts plans into effect. It achieves goals. It takes
constructive leadership (this will be analyzed at length in the next article
in this series). The chairman of a committee can manipulate his members; the
leader of a TEAM cannot. If he tries to, he will soon have no Team to
manipulate. There are certain criteria that should be considered in selecting
men for the various Teams:
Willingness to serve
- Time available far the task
- Capacity to learn
It cannot be over-emphasized that individuals of differing qualifications
should be members of the Teams. Charles L. Hughes, in Goal Setting, has said
this better than anyone else: "Many managers (leaders) have a tendency to
select subordinates in their own images; that is, to staff their team with
people who are like themselves. This is neither a healthy nor an effective
approach to organizing and balancing a team. It is not healthy because of what
it can do to individuals, and it is not effective because we cannot build a
goal-achieving organization with identical people. The criteria for a balanced
team do riot require that each individual member be a miniature team unto
himself; the necessary abilities must be present, not within each person, but
within the overall group."
The Team leader is in many respects a "moderator". He calls the members of the
Team together, states the purpose of the meeting, covers in broad terms the
overall goal the Master would like to achieve. The Team takes over. Each
member contributes to the discussion. Through a consensus of opinion the goal
of the Master is set, or modified, and it becomes the goal of each member of
Each man has committed himself to its achievement. It is important to remember
that Freemasonry is a voluntary organization. Men cannot be forced to work, to
attend meetings, or to function in any capacity in the Lodge. Only through
voluntary participation can a Lodge be successful in reaching the goals the
Worshipful Master would like to reach.
This is one of the many reasons the traditional concept of committees has
been, for the most part, a failure in all voluntary organizations. "Master's
wages" in Freemasonry consists mainly of but one thing - RECOGNITION. A member
of a Team is more likely to achieve the recognition he ought to get for a job
well done than a member of a committee.
Once Teams start functioning properly, everyone becomes aware of the
importance of each member. As time goes on, each member of the Team will take
charge of one or more of the functions chosen. Each man is a little better in
some phase than anyone else. This will be recognized by the Team, and his
knowledge will be put to work for the good of the Lodge.
Freemasonry is unique in many respects. The most unusual is the one that
places the Worshipful Master in complete charge of everything the Lodge does.
His decisions cannot be overruled by the Lodge, only by the Grand Master or
All committees, or Teams, serve at his will and pleasure. He can veto >
anything they may do. This is as it should be, because he alone is held >
accountable for what his Lodge does or doesn't do. The constructive > Master
uses his iron-fisted power with a silken touch. He will never > overrule the
proposal of one of his Teams unless the proposal violates a > law of the Grand
Lodge, or one of the Landmarks of Freemasonry. >
Such violation is highly unlikely. Every properly selected Team will have >
members who know the laws of the Grand Lodge and who are familiar with the >
Constitutions of Freemasonry. The number of Teams necessary will vary for >
every Lodge. The number of members needed on a Team will differ according > to
the situation. >
It should be the goal of each Lodge to have every resident member actively >
participate on one or more Teams. (A few suggested Teams needed in a > Lodge
are listed at the end of this Talk; how they should function will be > the
subject of a later article in this series.) Every man is an > individual. We
all know this, but we tend to forget it. Every man has > his likes and
dislikes. Every man has ideas that will benefit his Lodge > and Freemasonry in
No one can benefit from ideas that are kept buried. By utilizing Teams, > by
encouraging each member to serve where he is best qualified, ideas will > be
flushed out into the open. All of us will be the beneficiaries. If we > must
continue to appoint committees, let's do it-BUT let's make them work > as
Try it. You'll find that Teamwork does make the difference - the > difference
between success and failure, between stagnation and dynamic > growth.
Freemasonry is an establishment founded on the benevolent intention of >
extending and conferring mutual happiness upon the best and truest >
principles of moral life and social virtue. - CALCOTT.