Apprentice to Master, “a Servant Leader”.

Freemasonry is a learning platform used to improve a lifestyle which is morally, educationally and spiritually sound.

To guide a person through life in order to be the best they can be. A Master, or ‘Servant Leader,’ develops those people in their care.

They are someone who can guide others using the principles of Freemasonry.

This organisation is a unique in that it changes its leadership, at ground roots level, annually. This encourages the membership to prepare aspiring candidates to occupy the most senior managerial role in the Lodge, that of Master, over a relatively short period of time.

It achieves this in two ways. Firstly, it encourages aspiring young Masons to occupy progressive offices within the Lodge from Steward to Warden.

Each office teaches a managerial skill required of a Master. Secondly, it provides a place of learning, a Lodge of Instruction, in which the aspiring Mason can be taught and practice that skill, as well as the values of Freemasonry, in a safe supportive environment.

This system of learning builds self confidence and self esteem. It provides an opportunity for the aspiring Mason to be a better citizen, a better partner, a better parent, a better work colleague.

It is a system of morality, taught in a series of short plays or rituals, and illustrated by symbols relating to the craft of stonemasonry which are moralised upon.

For example the twenty four inch gauge represents the twenty four hours of the day and invites the young Mason to reflect on time management and the prioritising and valuation of tasks.

The journey through the offices of the Lodge from Steward to Master is one of a lifestyle choice. So let us take a look at that journey together.

“Brethren, from time immemorial it has been an established custom among Masons for each lodge, once every year at a stated period, to select from amongst those who are past Wardens an experience Craftsman to preside over them in the capacity of Master.”

The introductory statement from the Installing Master at the Ceremony of Installation of a new Master.

How do we identify a brother who has the experience to manage the Lodge? How do we identify an experienced Craftsman? Experience isn’t the length of time one has been a Freemason, it is what a Mason has done in that length of time.

What they have learned and how they have conducted themselves.

Freemasonry has been expertly designed to give a Brother the experience to take on the role of Master and earn the right to be called, ‘Worshipful or Distinguished Brother’. The process of moving from a Steward through the offices to Master

There are many leadership styles from Autocratic Leadership to Servant Leader with various shades in between. For the purpose of this lecture I would like to focus mainly on the ‘Servant Leader’. To me this style fits Freemasonry and its values of service to others.

However, a good leader recognises the strengths and weakness of a variety of different styles and uses those various styles as appropriate.

I will explain the ten qualities of the ‘Servant Leader’ and then show how Freemasonry fits this style of leadership

Ten Qualities of a good Team Leader (Deakin University).

1. Leadership is not all about you

“The principal role of a leader is to enable and empowers a team to achieve both collective and individual goals.”(Deakin University)

The principles of ‘Servant Leadership’ is one which aligns with Freemasonry. It involves , delegation, instruction and training but at its core is the ‘desire to serve’. To serve the Lodge and to serve the community.

How is that achieved in our Lodges?

In order to achieve a goal objectives should be set that are both relevant and achievable. Each of the Principle and Assistant Officers of the Lodge has a role to play. Each role has an achievable objective.

To conduct parts of a ceremony, which, when all the parts are put together, produces a ceremony which is memorable to the Candidate.

In other words teamwork with delegated responsibilities. The end goal for the aspiring Mason is to become the Master of the Lodge and earn the right to be called a ‘Worshipful Brother’. Using a Martial arts analogy, it is likened to becoming a ‘black belt’ in the Craft.

An honour which is a recognition of skill, service and commitment.

It is only by attending Lodge of Instruction can these objectives be met. It is only by attending Lodge of Instruction that commitment can be tested and proved. It is only by attending Lodge of Instruction can relationships be formed and bonds made. It is only by attending Lodge of Instruction can a Mason become skilled in the Craft and fulfil the first requirement of a Master.


Every Candidate for the office of Master ought to be of good report, true and trusty, and held in high estimation among his brethren and Fellows

2. Honesty, Integrity and Humility

Throughout our Masonic ritual these three virtues are taught. Honesty is required and tested in the Candidates interviews prior to being accepted.

His integrity is a lifetime commitment to keeping his ‘obligation’ and humility is required whilst being initiated and throughout each of the offices. “Humility in each role is essential.”

Sports referees and umpires are good examples of leaders. They have to demonstrate honesty and integrity because their decisions have a major effect on the outcome.

They are experts in humility. They have core values and behaviour which include identifying strengths and weaknesses and acknowledging that no individual is more important than the group. Where they possibly fail is in the areas of empathy and compassion which are key elements of conflict management.

3. Hold your team (and yourself) accountable

Coaching is a critical skill in leadership. It is at Lodge of Instruction that this takes place. It is a safe environment where an individual, including the Master and Past Masters, can learn, test knowledge and be accountable for their learning.
In the Second Degree opening the WM says, “duly open ……… for the instruction and improvement of Craftsmen.”
A great strength in an individual is to engage in self-reflection, diagnosing any weaknesses before someone else points them out to you.

4. Good leaders make a decisive commitment to a vision

Each Master enters their role with a vision, whether it is for the team to produce a ceremony that is memorable for the Candidate and/or see their Lodge grow and be successful. In order for them to do this they must have experience and recognise the values of Freemasonry.

They gain experience by going through each of the offices and not only learning the ritual but understanding it and its application to the personal development of an individual.

They must be able to think ‘outside of the box’, be creative within the values of Masonry and articulate that vision inspiring others in the process.


He must have been regularly initiated, passed and raised in the established degrees of the Order, be well skilled in the noble science, and duly served the office of Warden in a regular Lodge

5. Know thyself and believe in thyself

Daniel Goleman stated in 1998 that, “knowledge about ourselves is essential to improving management skills.” He goes on, “ Education, previous experience and a position of authority can lead to increased self-confidence”.

All these attributes can be attained at Lodge of Instruction and taking part in the ritual.

Commitment to learning and self-development will increase your self-confidence as you go through each of the offices.

However, excessive self-confidence can lead to autocratic, intolerant leadership and arrogance.

It is important, therefore, that we identify and accept our strengths and our weaknesses for it is only in doing so in ourselves that we can accept the same in our team. Honest self-reflection is essential.

In the Address to the Wardens it states:

“What you observe praiseworthy in others you should carefully imitate, what in them you find defective you should, in yourself, amend.”

6. Successful team leaders speak well and listen better

One of the great confidence boosters in Freemasonry is having the opportunity to speak in front of others in a safe and supportive environment. Lodge of Instruction is one of the great learning opportunities in which to master this important leadership skill.
Warren Buffet regularly tells MBA students that, “their degree will give them an edge, but it’s public speaking that will put them ahead of their competitors.”
In order to build self-esteem in both yourself and your team it is essential that you seek and listen to feedback. After participating in a ceremony have a reflection session with a Senior Lodge member or your mentor. It will build your self-esteem and, team feedbacks, when properly facilitated, can boost a feeling of social inclusion.

7. Achieve goals in good time

To be an ‘effective’ leader or ‘Master of a Lodge’, it is essential that you are goal driven. Using the SMART principle – Specific; Measurable; Agreed; Realistic and Time framed.

For example for a ceremony to be effective each officer must know his role and be given a realistic time frame in which to achieve it.

It can be measured at Lodge of Instruction where help, if needed, can be given. Specifically floor work. In the Lodge of Instruction Summons the work for the month is published so officers are well aware of the time frame and where to ask for help if required.

8. Successful leaders master stress management

It can be quite nerve wracking approaching a meeting where you are to deliver a piece of ritual. Put aside time for yourself.

Time for self-care and personal wellbeing. As you go through the offices on the way to the Master’s Chair you will learn coping mechanisms that suite you best.

Talk with others that have gone before and identify their coping mechanisms to find something that will suit you best.

By having an effective daily stress management routine you will be more effective as a leader and what’s more, you will be more pleasant to be around.

Freemasonry in general and the Lodges in particular have a built in program to assist brethren with mental and physical welfare.

The Lodge Mentor can sit down with you and discuss various stress coping mechanisms. The Lodge Almoner is available to help with welfare issues.

Both are only a phone call away and are more than willing to give help and advice. “Seek and you shall find.”

9. Avoid dysfunctions and reward excellence

A successful team leader has an understanding of the ‘Five Dysfunctions of a Team’ (Patrick Lencioni)



1: ABSENCE OF TRUST. “The fear of being vulnerable prevents team members from building trust with each other”. By creating a safe and supportive learning environment at Lodge of Instruction is the first step towards gaining the trust of Lodge members.

2: FEAR OF CONFLICT. “The desire to preserve artificial harmony stifles productive ideological conflict within the team”. A discussion is not an argument. An environment of mutual respect and an understanding of others points of view, empathy, is essential to preserve harmony within a group. Inside the Lodge there is no political or religious discussion to preserve harmony but outside the Lodge and during committee meetings there is freedom of discussion but it must be within the bounds of Masonic values.

3: LACK OF COMMITMENT. “The lack of clarity and/or buy-in prevents team members from making decisions they can stick to.” Collective and clear goals must be set out at the start of every Masonic year and given to the brethren in order for them to buy into and support it.

4: AVOIDANCE OF ACCOUNTABILITY. “The need to avoid interpersonal discomfort prevents team members from holding each other accountable for their behaviour and performance”. Self-reflection with constructive and supportive feedback is essential in improving performance and personal development. In the Second Degree Charge, “ judge with candour, admonish with friendship, and reprehend with mercy.”

5: INATTENTION TO RESULTS. “The pursuit of individual goals and personal status erodes the team’s focus on collective success”. Ego is the destructive power to team success. It is important as a leader that team excellence is recognised, nurtured and rewarded.

10. Good leaders are lifelong learners

Freemasonry is committed to lifelong learning. The Second Degree acknowledges and promotes this concept. Society changes and in order to remain relevant Freemasonry must change with it without losing its core values.


He ought to be exemplary in conduct, courteous in manners, easy of address and steady and firm in principle, able and willing to undertake the management of the work and well skilled in the Ancient Charges, Regulations and Landmarks of the Order

Having set the objectives of a ‘Servant Leader’, how does going through each of the offices develop the young Mason, prepare them for the Master’s Chair and earn them the honour of being called a ‘Worshipful Brother’, a ‘black belt’ Freemason?

As a ‘Steward’ of the Lodge the young Mason is required to assist the Tyler in preparing the Lodge room for the meeting and clearing the Lodge room after the meeting.

In doing so they will learn about the ‘Furniture’ and ‘Jewels’ of the Lodge and with the help of the Tyler or Senior Brother they will learn the moral values of each – the Ancient Charges, Regulations and Landmarks of the Order’.

They learn the roles of the Inner Guard and Deacons in case they are required to fill in those posts in times of absence.

The young Mason is required to wait on the visitors to ensure that they have a good experience, so the young Mason must be ‘courteous in manner and easy of address’.

They are also required to attend Lodge of Instruction on a regular basis showing commitment and establishing a relationship with the Brethren.

By doing these roles he is enhancing his Masonic knowledge as well as communication and social skills.

The ‘Inner Guard’ is the young Mason’s first public speaking role. They must learn their part and speak confidently to the Tyler, Worshipful Master and Junior Warden.

By practice at Lodge of Instruction and putting time aside at home to learn the part he will gradually build in confidence.

The ‘Deacon’s’ role brings with it further development skills. Apart from learning floor work and deportment the young Mason will have to take responsibility of another in the form of a candidate.

Their attitude and their behaviour towards the Candidate will leave a lasting impression on those in their care.

They will also learn about communication, both verbal and non-verbal. All eyes will be on them during ceremonies, so this will build confidence and a presence in front of others.

As a ‘Warden’ the young Mason will learn about leadership. They will assist the Worshipful Master in the well ruling and governing of the Lodge by “communicating Light” and “imparting knowledge” to the Brethren.

The ‘Light’ being the moralisation within the ritual and the knowledge being the ritual itself . These they will acquire at Lodge of Instruction.

They will attend committee meetings to see how they are run and represent the Worshipful Master in their absence. By observing the Worshipful Master in the work they will learn about being a ‘Servant Leader’.

As the ‘Master’, it is their duty “to communicate Light and instruction to the Brethren”. That is to say to deliver the ritual in such a manner that the Brethren will understand and reflect upon the moralisation surrounding it.

Their man management skills will be put to the test resolving conflict should it arise and delegate responsibilities. The address to the Master puts their role in the most eloquent of words.

“Forcibly impress on the Brethren the dignity and high importance of Masonry; seriously admonish them never to disgrace it; charge them to practice out of the Lodge those duties they have been taught in it; and by virtuous, amiable and discreet conduct to prove to the world the happy and beneficial effects of our Ancient Institution, so that when any one is said to be a member of it, the world may know that he is one to whom the burden heart may pour forth its sorrow, to whom the distressed may prefer their suit, whose hand is guided by justice and whose heart is expanded by benevolence.”

Each office has within it an achievable objective. Each objective is a step towards that final goal in Craft Masonry, that of being a ‘Worshipful Brother’.

However, being a ‘Worshipful Brother’ is not the end of the journey but the beginning of another.

The tenth step of a ‘Servant Leader’ is “lifelong learning” and, within Freemasonry, that is by working towards being an ‘Excellent Companion’. Craft Masonry develops the moral, educated and reflective man. The Holy Royal Arch develops the spiritual man.

Enjoy your journey of self-development. Enjoy your Freemasonry.

Article by: Stephen J. Goulding

Stephen was initiated into Freemasonry in 1978 in Tylney Lodge No. 5856 (UGLE). He was Master in 1989 & 2004.

He was Master of the Lodge of Union 38 (UGLE) in 2018. He is also a PZ in the Holy Royal Arch and PM in the Mark Degree.

Stephen served 30 years in the Metropolitan Police Service (London, England) before going into education in 2000, where he became a college lecturer and a mentor for both the college and the University of Greenwich (London, England). Now retired, he teaches Tai Chi and Qigong in the community.

Facebook: Steve Goulding-Tai Chi West Sussex–Chi at Chi





Qualities of good team leaders. Deakin University.


The Servant as a Leader by  Robert K. Greenleaf (1970)

Lodge of Union No. 38 Ritual Book.

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