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We Need Active and Passive Leaders

My Brothers:

One of the great contributions that our Fraternity has made to the world has been in the area of the development of leaders. We have been able to take men with potential, but with limited skills, and transform them from a relatively shy introvert or an untrained extrovert to become dynamic leaders of the Craft on all levels. They then carried this leadership ability into the world outside the Craft. Think how often you have observed members of your lodge begin progression through the chairs and watched them improve in their capabilities prior to completing their terms as Worshipful Master.

Today, we are recognizing a lack of qualified leaders to guide our Craft. Why? Are we failing to attract the potential? Or are we failing to transform the potential? Or both? Because of the significance of this contribution, however, it merits our concern.

Over the years, I have observed two significant types of leadership. First, there is the one whom we would recognize and regard as the active leader. He is the visible one, the one listed on programs as a leader. He is the one wearing the jewels of the Craft.

I have been afforded the privilege of personally knowing some of the great active Masonic leaders of our time. I would not attempt to name them for fear of overlooking those of equal talents and contributions. They are the ones whose names are most frequently related to our Craft and the ones who are receiving the most credit.

But, there is a second type -- one who is frequently overlooked as a leader. He is the one whose name is not listed as an officer, but is always there to participate. He doesn't wear jewels, but his presence is imperative for our success. Both have been significant in the development and existence of the Craft.

When I first joined Freemasonry, I met an older brother of the lodge who exemplified a different style of leadership than that with which I was familiar. He never held an office of any kind of which I am aware. But, he served on every committee for which he was asked. He did not drive an automobile, but he rarely missed a meeting of any Masonic body to which he belonged. Frequently, that meant waiting for a bus to get him to a meeting and hoping he could get a ride home. This older brother was as totally ego free as anyone I have ever met. He never asked for, nor sought, recognition, but he offered to help all who were in an active leadership role.

Was this old man a leader? He was, in my opinion, one of the great Masonic leaders I have known because he served as an example for others. He epitomized to me what is significant as a passive leader. He led simply by setting an admirable example. Without men like that there, my Brothers, there could be no men like we who are regarded as leaders. Of what value would the greatest leader be if there were none like him to follow our lead?

Freemasonry today needs both active and passive leaders. We need to find those with the potential to lead either actively or passively. We need to continue to provide to the world the leaders we have developed within the enclaves of our lodge rooms. We, therefore, must attract and develop the qualified leader. When we develop leaders, we serve not only the Craft, but we also serve the world. After all, is that not our intent?