By Michael Greenzeiger
I’ve had the privilege of belonging to several different lodges and of visiting a number of others all across the country. There are truly many different ways to be a good leader and to run a successful lodge. One commonality I have observed among all those who are successful, however, is the willingness to empower others.
Many of us have been able to bring new members into our lodges, but we have not always been so fortunate as to keep those members active and engaged. When new members feel that their ideas aren’t being heard or that they have no say in how the lodge is run, they are quick to lose interest in Odd Fellowship. Too many of us are not willing to let others try out their ideas or to place them in a position to help make important decisions. This even extends to lodges where the members have been around awhile, but one member holds on to the reigns of power and won’t share with others. When this member dies or can no longer participate, that all knowledge and experience is at risk of being lost.
Fortunately, those who came before us in Odd Fellowship understood the importance of empowering our members and passing on the ability to run the lodge to subsequent generations. This is the magic of the “progressive line” where each year we ideally have a new Noble Grand, Vice Grand, and all the appointed offices which lead up to them. This ingenious system is meant to prevent the lodge from becoming the fiefdom of a single member and to ensure we are all placed in position to learn the leadership and organizational skills needed to run the lodge.
When we give others a chance to try new things, to learn from their mistakes, and to grow into the various positions of the lodge, we are giving that member a great gift, but we are receiving one as well in the form of a vibrant and effective lodge. Some of the very best suggestions I’ve heard for new events or new ways to improve a lodge have come from a new member. Let us always remember to listen to and value all of our members no matter how new or how old and to give them the opportunity to show us all what they can bring to our Order when given the chance.