(This article was taken from the Website "Midnight Freemason".)
Author note: Recently I was asked to speak at a "Brother Bring A Friend Night." The Master wanted me to address questions prospective members, their partners, and family members might have on the benefits of Freemasonry. This article contains many of the points made that evening.
Freemasonry as an organization does not actively recruit members. While most lodges have a website or social media presence, as a whole, we apply the phrase, "Ask One To Be One", to guide new members into our fraternity. Our principle of, "Making good men better”, is the message we publicly communicate to the uninitiated man, seeking to gain his part in Freemasonry.
As a marketing professional, I must admit that it was difficult to resist the urge to naturally promote my passion for Freemasonry to men I know, who personally and professionally, I believe would make an excellent addition to any lodge. I think back to my time studying Masonic degrees, where the word "caution" is used to teach an essential lesson on discussing the subject of Freemasonry. We are taught to exercise caution when speaking on Freemasonry, especially with its detractors. Imagine how difficult it becomes to answer questions prospective gentleman, their families, and loved ones may have when you are bound to not reveal the secrets of Freemasonry to anyone other than another Mason.
With this challenge in mind, I can't help but escape the thought of how do we grow as a force of good in the world when we cannot actively promote ourselves to those who would be strong candidates to petition a Lodge?
Start with your WHY
Simon Sinek shares his ideas on how the greatest leaders and organizations think, act, and communicate in his book "Start With Why.” Sinek discusses how successful brands like Apple, tell their story by sharing their WHY: the driving force, their desires, and hopes. Starting with your WHY makes it easier for others to understand your drive, it creates buy-in by connecting you with everyone else. Companies aren't the only ones, Sinek notes, that have changed their approach. Leaders like Martin Luther King, Jr., Steve Jobs, and the Wright Brothers all told us their WHY. Most of today's successful brands and leaders have abandoned the traditional benefits language, starting with what makes them different from their competitors (bigger, better, faster), in favor of sharing the most valuable ingredient in building a trust-relationship: passion.
If successful companies over time can create promoters from loyal customers, why can’t Freemasonry?
This is why, when asked the, "Are you a Mason" question, I include my WHY in my response. I sought admission to a lodge because I wanted to know why great men were drawn to this exceptional organization. How does a centuries-old tradition link to legendary figures throughout history? What possible lessons could be passed on to a man like myself? What did these great men know that I do not and how could I learn from their experiences? My WHY is my life-long pursuit of learning and Freemasonry provides vast resources from books to explore, to assimilating with its diverse members. My WHY is the fellowship I share with my Brothers, the enrichment gained from studying and the knowledge I gain from sharing life experiences with men from diverse walks of life. My Brothers are WHY I joined Freemasonry.
Masonry is not right for every man
It takes a unique individual to have the heart to serve others, an inquiring mind to learn new things and a noble character that accepts those of different faiths, backgrounds, and beliefs. As a Mason, I have several colleagues and friends who I believe would make excellent members, some who even ask about visiting, but for whatever reason, never advance to entering. Some don't have the time to attend meetings, the discipline to learn our traditions or the interest in expanding their circle of friends. And that is fine. Not every gentleman who visits a Lodge will join, this is how Freemasonry has remained a constant presence over time. We believe that the first place you become a Mason is in your heart, years before you enter our fraternity.
Too often today we join networks or groups that offer a promise to open doors or claim professional enrichment. Freemasonry does not. The only enlightenment you will receive will be from the work you put into applying our ancient teachings into your everyday life. I am proud to be a member of a global Fraternity of men who possess a higher calling, who participate freely without personal gain or private interests. Masonry has stood the test of time, from Kings to Revolutionists, from Civil War to Equal Rights. This is our WHY: we come together in harmony which is the support of all good institutions, especially this of ours’.
Brother Michael Arce is the Junior Warden of St. George’s #6, Schenectady and a member of Mt. Zion #311, Troy New York. When not in Lodge, Bro. Arce is the Marketing Manager for Capital Cardiology Associates in Albany, New York. He enjoys meeting new Brothers and hearing how the Craft has enriched their lives. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org