It is a sad fact that recent years have seen a steady decline in the number of Freemasons within the United Kingdom. That is not all, two further worrying trends compound the situation. Many of our newer brethren leave within the first 3 - 5 years of their Masonic life and the number of active masons in each lodge is often declining.
Everybody says that the future of Freemasonry lies with the newer brethren. This is true, but what do we, as experienced masons, do about this?
This came from a brother who was questioned why he had put in his resignation within just two years of joining.
"I didn't really know what I was joining, but I knew that my Proposer was a decent and honourable man and he always spoke so highly of Freemasonry. My first night was overwhelming and I'm still not sure what it was all about. I remember everybody was very friendly, so much so that I was struggling to remember everybody's name. My Proposer was an active officer in the Lodge, but he made sure he had plenty of time to look after me that night."
"Everybody was asking what I thought of it all and a few said that it would make more sense if I quickly visited another Lodge in the area, so that I could watch the ceremony from the sidelines. My Proposer said that this was a great idea and he would give me a ring to arrange it. Well, everyone was busy and I never managed to visit before the next meeting. The next meeting was a little confusing, as I was asked to leave quite soon in the ceremony and I had to sit in the dining room. I had a good chat with the Stewards (and a pint!), but before I knew it everyone was leaving the Lodge room and it was time for the meal. "
"As I said, my Proposer was an active officer and he was really busy that night so I had to spend the rest of the evening with people I didn't know. They were very nice but I felt as if I couldn't really ask them the questions I wanted to, maybe I didn't even know which questions to ask. My wife and grown up children showed interest at first, but when I couldn't answer their questions their interest soon waned."
"I'm afraid the rest of my short Masonic career was a bit like that, as I never got to do much visiting and I went through all my degrees without really understanding any of them. As soon as I had reached my Third Degree, someone asked if I wanted to join something called the Chapter. It was at this point I stopped and asked myself what I was doing. I was in something that I didn't really understand, nobody had the time to tell me what was going on and I was being asked to get involved further."
"That was when I decided to leave. I'm in business and when my company takes people on, we make sure that they are looked after until they know their way. "
You may think the statement on the previous page a little contrived, but it is a true story. Fortunately, he was persuaded to hold his decision and with a little support and encouragement he is currently an active officer himself. Furthermore, he has now proposed his son as a candidate.
What do we learn from this?
Look at the key points from the previous statement:
- Didn't really know what he was joining
- Not sure what the first night was all about
- Did not manage any visits to other Lodges
- Confused when asked to leave the next meeting (2nd or 3rd degree?)
- Felt embarrassed with his lack of knowledge
- Became a Master Mason without understanding the ceremonies
- Did not have the answers to his families' questions
- Asked to join Chapter, again without any understanding
We must ask ourselves the question "Does any of this happen in my Lodge?" If we are truthful with ourselves, we may not like the answer.
This is where Mentoring may help. Mentoring is an established developmental tool that has long been used in business, to help both new starters in their work inductions and to motivate and develop existing employees to help them fill their true potential.