Thursday, April 8, 2010

Each to his own ability

"A pile of rocks ceases to be a rock when somebody contemplates it with an idea of a cathedral in mind." ~ Antoine De Saint-Exupery

One of the key tasks of being Master is trying to improve your ability to assess your Lodge's strengths and weaknesses. As the Master Mason in charge of the building, you are responsible for assigning the right workers to the right tasks. During the construction of cathedrals there were many workers - stonecutters, mortar makers and quarrymen to name a few - who performed their several tasks to complete the building. Similarly, I must know how to find the right men to do the work needed to keep the Lodge moving forward.

As I have said before, these past two years have been eye opening for me. Regrettably, I have seemed to try to make the man fit the task, rather than finding the man that fits the task. Any one of us can attend a meeting or two and within a reasonable amount of time assess what each man may be good doing and what jobs would not be a good fit. I had difficulty with this, sometimes just because I was blind due to my ambition to make the Lodge fit the model I had in my mind. I wanted the Brethren to be as motivated as I was. I wanted them to be as involved as I was. The reality is - they won't be - and the more you force the issue, the worse it will get. It also has a tendency to set the task up for failure. By forcing a Brother into a task he is not suited for it is, in my experience, will result in either the job not getting done or it will not get done well. In addition, you may end up with a Brother who becomes upset because he was forced into doing something he didn't want to do or is angry because he ends up looking incompetent. This weakens the overall integrity of the building and adds to the weakness of the Lodge.

Our Operative Brethren had skills and specialized tasks. There were:
  • Stonecutters - those who carve blocks into the right size and shape and add decoration.
  • Mortar Masons - those who mix the mortar that joins the stone.
  • Quarrymen - those who select the stones that become ashlars for the building.

There are also certain tasks that Masons needed to perform:

  • Laying out walls, patterns or foundations using the rule.
  • Shaping, trimming, facing and cutting stone prepatory to setting.
  • Replacing broken or missing masonry units into the structure.
  • Smoothing, polishing and beveling surfaces.

From this list we can project them into a Speculative form that we may utilize in our own Lodges. Quarrymen are those Brethren who are best equipped to work with candidates and shape them from stones to ashlars and prepare them for the building. Mortar Masons are those Brothers who are best equipped to coordinate or chair social functions that create the cement of Brotherly Love and affection. They are also those Brothers who are skilled at mediating disputes. Stonemasons are those Brothers who are best equipped to continue the mentoring process beyond the 3rd Degree. They are adept at educational endeavors and can provide Masonic education.

We can also use the tasks of Master Masons as well:

  • Laying out walls, patterns or foundations using the rule. (developing a trestleboard)
  • Shapping, trimming, facing and cutting stone prepatory to setting. (mentoring)
  • Replacing broken or missing masonry units into the structure. (brotherhood committee, widows committee)
  • Smoothing, polishing and beveling surfaces. (education)

The possibilities are endless. The focus is really to be honest as to a Brother's strengths and assign him to the appropriate task - and then let him do it.

Who are the workmen in your Lodge? What tasks can they perform? How can they best be utilized to add strength to your edifice?


  1. Brother, I am truly enjoying how youa re takign some of my un-formed and non-worded thoughts and giving them shape and form and a clarity of focus that I lacked. You've said what Iw as thinking all along and could not form into coherent thoughts. You've goen several steps further of course and takne the educational opportunities farther and assesssed who can do what and how best to coordinate the brethren. This is somehting future Masters need. Please share those secreets of the chair and lets not let that information get lost again.

  2. It says below "If you have taken ideas from this blog and not credited them to the author, your mother - I am sure - would be very disappointed with you." But you show no other way to contact you
    My mother was very proud of me, I do ask permission to reprint a good story when I find one.
    I publish the "Small Town Texas Masons E-magazine" at and would like to get permission to reprint the story above with all due credit, of course.


  3. Thank you for your compliment. I will send you an e-mail to the one listed on your website and we can chat some more.