Richard H. Ryder, 2018
Upper line officers receive most of the press surrounding the workings of the lodge, but the contribution of lower line officers should not be understated or underappreciated. I’m referring to the Electrician, Inside Sentinel, and Tyler. As my mother-in-law used to say, “Many hands make light work.” If anything, we don’t utilize enough these important resources.
Except for the Tyler, men who fill these roles are oftentimes our newest members. They are newly minted, not influenced by lodge traditions and politics, and bring a fresh face to the line. They have new ideas, new perspectives, and new energy. Why would we not want to tap their interests and skills for the betterment of the Lodge? Instead of dismissing their roles, we should celebrate them.
The Tyler is often a veteran of the Craft, someone who wants to stay engaged in the organization of the lodge, but not with the accompanying ritual and day to day responsibilities. It takes a special person to fill this role, someone who subordinates the privilege of sitting in lodge with his Brothers with that of guarding the lodge room from intruders and welcoming Masons who seek admission to the lodge while the meeting is in progress. Responsibility for the attendance register is under his domain, ensuring an accurate count of those in attendance. In many cases, the Tyler is a member who never sat in the East, but after years of experience and involvement is a hidden asset to the lodge. It is the wise Master who taps this invaluable human resource and a hidden leader by virtue of his tenure as a Mason.
Like the Tyler, the Inside Sentinel and Electrician are oftentimes untapped resources. If these roles are filled with two new members then they can be thought of as the next generation of senior line officers. Treat them as such. View them as potential energy, who, with appropriate mentoring during the coming years, have the potential to gain a wealth of experience that they can draw upon as future Wardens and then as Master.
Leaders are not born as such; they are cultivated, with lots of mentoring and internal fortitude. It is wise, as someone once said, to act as the person you want to become. As such, new members serving as Inside Sentinel or Electrician can lead by example, setting a positive image of both Masonry and the line of officers to members joining right after them.
They can also demonstrate leadership characteristics by preparing themselves for higher line positions, if they aspire to do so. Creating a mental image and vision of themselves serving as Stewards, Deacons, Wardens, and Master is a key trait of an effective leader. One of my favorite expressions is “Luck is where preparation meets opportunity.” Being prepared in every way will allow these junior officers to advance up the line when opportunity presents itself.
In conclusion, no matter where you are in the organization of line officers, you have an opportunity and a responsibility to strengthen your leadership skills and demonstrate them wherever and whenever possible. In doing so, you will bring pleasure to yourself and honor to the fraternity.