Building – Today and Tomorrow – Where do we go from here?
I thank you for the honor bestowed upon me to serve this Grand Lodge as the Grand Master of Masons in Mississippi. Explore with me an idea that I have – “where do we go from here?” Past Grand Master of South Carolina, RW Brother Jay Pearson, compared a small change in the temperature of boiling water to urge Brethren to give one little extra effort to accomplish any goal.
Water at 212º F is hot; if you continue to add heat that water boils, still at 212º, and is transformed into steam, which can power machinery and move mountains. That extra heat energy can make a difference. Likewise can a little extra effort or more devotion to ‘fidelity’ on our part.
Most Worshipful Pearson asked all to consider how relationships within family, business and fraternity would be enriched if each were to commit ourselves to give one additional degree of effort in our fidelity with others. Fidelity is exemplified when we are trustworthy, dependable and committed. So, I ask, “Where do we go to from here?” Are we to be common laborers or builders?
As an Entered Apprentice we were placed in the north east corner and presented working tools to begin the moral and intellectual task of erecting a spiritual temple in our hearts. Fidelity is the chief building block of that foundation and the rule and guide of our conduct throughout our lives.
With the lack of fidelity between individuals, the entire social structure of the world would crumble and lead to utter chaos. Through fidelity we remain faithful to God, our family and in all our obligations to our country, the fraternity and to ourselves. Therefore, one additional degree of fidelity would become a testimonial of a better life – to be a “Builder” or just a common “Laborer.”
Now we have a target to set our sights on. Focusing our actions in everything we do. Having this simple, clearly defined goal can lift our spirits, capture the imagination, and inspire passion. We must, however, be able to modify our way of thinking, our methods and procedures: to improvise, adapt and overcome. We should realize that: “if we always do what we have always done – we are going to get what we have always got.”
Making a difference is the theme found in the following poem which I heard at a funeral service in one of our sister jurisdictions. It provides an end result that we should all strive for.
I saw them tearing a building down
A team of men in my hometown.
With a heave and a ho and a yes yes yell,
They swung a beam and a sidewall fell.
And I said to the foreman, “Are these men skilled?”
“Like the ones you’d use if you had to build?”
And he laughed and said, “Oh no, indeed…
the most common labor is all I need…
for I can destroy in a day or two
what takes a builder ten years to do.”
So I thought to myself as I went on my way…
which one of these roles am I willing to play?
Am I one who is tearing down as I carelessly make my way around?
Or am I one who builds with care, in order to make the world a
better place…. because I was there?
Tomorrow holds some unknown outcomes but we should be ready to meet them head on. All I know is what I have been trained to do – keep pressing forward, do not retreat and never surrender – failure is not an option – and nothing is impossible with the Lord.
A leader should do so from the front. It is easy for a commander to order troops into battle from a safe position – far back in the rear; however, it takes a true leader to say ‘follow me’ into any conflict. That is what I ask of you. Follow me – Improvise, adapt and overcome. Individually, we cannot but together, all things are possible through “Him” who strengthens us.
The following are thoughts regarding the “Paradox of Leadership”:
- People are sometimes illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered. Love them anyway.
- If you do good, people might accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Do good anyway.
- If you are successful, you can win false friends and true enemies. Succeed anyway.
- The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway.
- Honesty and frankness can make you vulnerable. Be honest anyway.
- People favor underdogs but follow top dogs. Fight for the underdogs anyway.
- What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight. Build anyway.
- People who need help may attack you if you help them. Help them anyway.
- Give the world the best you have and you may get kicked in the teeth. Give your best anyway.
Doing the right thing won’t always win you a prize – life is full of compromises and even disappointments. True leaders know that the right thing is reward in itself, and eventually other rewards and recognition will follow.
Where do we go from here? I will not send you; but I will ask you to ‘follow me.’ Let us go over the wall, into the teeth of the conflict – building a more effective fraternity, improving ourselves and never forgetting that as masons we are builders.
Together, we can make Mississippi masonry a progressive Fraternity spreading the cement of brotherly love and affection, uniting us into a brotherhood that will never be broken – no matter what obstacles may arise in our pathway and maybe, we will be leaving this a better place because we were here.
Thank you once again for the honor to serve; however, do not stand still or mark time; make a difference – improvise, adapt and overcome – failure is not an option.
Be “Always Faithful” – be a Builder.