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The Leader
November 2019: Expecting to be Master

Table of Contents

What to Expect When You’re Expecting to Be Master

A lodge master usually spends a single year in the East—a challenging timeframe in which to complete the memory work, set out a direction for the lodge, ensure its financial stability, and implement bold new plans. That’s why when it comes to leadership, a plan is bigger than a single man—and why long-term planning at Grand Lodge leadership retreats is so crucial to lodges.

By planning ahead for not just the year to come but for several years down the road, lodges take a proactive step toward ensuring their long-term viability—and make the work of lodge leadership manageable for the master and the men who will follow.

As he steps down from his second year as master of Santa Rosa Luther Burbank Lodge No. 57, Mike Voorhees explains the benefit of looking down the road, how leadership retreats help facilitate it, and why he’s encouraging his line of officers to attend.

Collaboration Is Key

The two leadership retreats offered by Grand Lodge—one for secretaries and treasurers, and another for masters and wardens—differ in content but offer a similar value. In both cases, they’re opportunities for officers of the Grand Lodge to meet with and offer best-practices advice with lodge leaders. As Voohrees explains, many lodge leaders aren’t aware of the number of resources offered through Grand Lodge. Retreats offer an in-person opportunity to tap into that rich vein. “They offer a chance to sit down and work through resources like Intacct and website templates,” he says. “It’s much easier to become informed that way.”

However, leadership retreats aren’t simply top-down information dumps—there are plenty of chances for leaders to brainstorm together and share tips and advice with one another. “In one breakout session, a handful of us started talking about how many new prospects our lodges had cultivated so far that year,” Voorhees recalls of one such session. “It was May, and we had only had about three applications. Then this one guy gets up and says they have had about 16 applications submitted so far. We were all dumfounded, and the ensuing discussion about how they got them was very informative.” Sometimes, these breakout sessions evolve into deeper connections. The junior warden of the lodge, Joshua Fernandez—just two years away from taking over as lodge master—has kept close ties with fellow leaders he’s met at these retreats.

“In the end, as master of the lodge, you have to remember you’re no King Solomon,” Voorhees says. “It’s a team effort and you really do have to collaborate to be a successful leader.” Grand Lodge leadership retreats offer chances for leaders to expand their network of advisers and share common experiences with fellow leaders.

Looking ahead to 2020, Grand Lodge is offering a new round of retreats for officers to participate in. See the full calendar here. Save the date and register early.

Putting It Into Practice

Leadership retreats are a great opportunity for officers. But they’re only a first step. To get the most out of retreats, lodge leaders have to ensure they’re putting what they’ve learned into practice.

1. First, Debrief

  • Request all members of your lodge executive committee and all members who recently attended leadership retreats to meet together.
  • Encourage members who are being groomed for future leadership positions to attend as well.
  • Consider inviting key leaders such as past masters, and even the general membership.

2. Share Your Knowledge

  • Ask members who attended leadership retreats to present their key takeaways. This may include new ideas, best practices from other lodges, and resources to try, along with the actionable, practical takeaways.
  • If possible, ask members to frame these presentations within the four categories of the 2020 Fraternity Plan: Providing a rewarding member experience; offering memorable and meaningful degrees; building strong lodges and halls; and making a positive impact on.

3. Discuss
Reflecting on retreat experiences, discuss:

  • What you think your members want.
  • Where the lodge needs to go.
  • What may need to change.
  • Anticipated challenges and how you’ll address them as a team.
  • How key lodge activities engage members and support making true friends, learning and improving, and having a positive impact on your community.

4. Commit to a Plan

  • Create a plan for implementing desired changes.
  • Identify the steps you’ll take as a team and who will lead those efforts.
  • Set a schedule to meet and check in on progress.

5. Engage the Lodge

  • In the Trestleboard or at stated meeting, share a summary of key retreat takeaways and your plans for implementing them.
  • Ask for member support in specific, measurable ways. For example, if the prospect experience is a priority, set a goal for member attendance at an event that’s open to prospects.
  • Share goal progress at stated meetings.

Your November Checklist

Stay on track of lodge business and prepare for important deadlines. Here’s your November checklist.

Executive Committee

  • Along with the lodge, elect officers.
  • Meet with the inspector to review your plan for the year.
  • Budget for, and prepare to attend, 2020 leadership retreats.
  • Share with your lodge the dates and topics for the 2020 California Masonic Symposium.

Senior Warden, along with Executive Committee

  • Urge presumptive master, wardens, and senior deacon to perform their Master Mason’s proficiency soon, if not already completed.
  • Urge the presumptive master, wardens, and senior deacon to qualify early with the inspector in their office’s ritual.
  • Urge respective officers to answer the master, senior warden, and junior warden questions early.
  • Identify and approach members for the 2020 Audit, Membership Retention, and any other committees.
  • Set calendar for 2020 and identify event leaders.
  • Continue preparing 2020 budget. Be sure to include attendance at the Secretary & Treasurer and Master & Wardens retreats and Annual Communication next year.
  • Finalize your installation date/venue and prepare the installing team.
  • Review all candidates’ progress toward advancement.


  • Transmit certificates of election in iMember.
  • Continue sending out dues notices and collecting member dues.

Questions? Contact Member Services at or (415) 776-7000.

For Your Trestleboard

Spread the word about programs and services from the Masonic Homes of California, California Masonic Foundation, and Grand Lodge.

This month:
Bringing Brotherly Love into Relief

Find it on

The Hiram Award is the highest honor a lodge can bestow on a brother. It is an award meant to honor individuals who have repeatedly given to the lodge, year after year. For information on how to prepare for a Hiram Award ceremony, check out this manual on

Question of the Month

Last month we asked why you participate in 100 percent officer giving. Of those that responded:

  • 72% - I’m dedicated to the philanthropic mission of the fraternity
  • 56% - I like to lead by example
  • 2% - Because the master of the lodge told me to
  • 4% - Other Answers