by Alan P. Duncan, District Deputy Grand Master, 26th Masonic District
It’s one thing to say you will meet good men in our fraternity who will help you become a better man yourself and another thing to understand it. To understand it, you have to truly connect with the brethren at the lodge and see how they will go out of their way to help you as Brother Allen B. Housholder, P.M., helped me.
After I had already started sitting chairs and helping with degrees, Brother Allen kindly offered to help me if I wanted to learn the degrees. We arranged to meet once a week for about an hour at his place. He had a room we could use that afforded us privacy for our work. I like ritual, but I’m not particularly fast at it. My goal was always just adding in one more paragraph; sometimes, I wasn’t even able to do that. For eight months, Brother Allen made himself available to help me and welcomed me into his home. His wife was always sweet to me and told me she didn’t mind him taking the time with me. We usually spent at least two hours, not one, on our work.
Brother Allen would help me with ritual for a while, then we’d take a break, and he’d tell me stories about the lodge or the members or explain how things worked which weren’t related to ritual. In short, he mentored me. He invested me in the lodge by making it meaningful to me … and, in the process, he got to know me and supported me as I advanced through the chairs.
When I was ready to learn my 2nd degree, his door was open, and he had a cold water waiting for me. Again, he spent months meeting with me, and again, I got the degree into my memory … and so much more. He was there for me. Though it cost him time and effort, he felt it was what he should do as a Mason.
Unfortunately, I did not learn my 3rd degree before I became Worshipful Master of my lodge. I was too caught up in the other work required to qualify for the chair, and felt like I had too much to think about once I was in. I justified in my mind that I couldn’t do it at that time, even though Brother Allen made it clear he’d help me.
After I became a Past Master, Brother Allen and I were talking one night, and he brought up that I hadn’t yet learned the 3rd degree. He’d come to know me pretty well, so he could see I was allowing myself to grow lax and coming up with excuses. That night, he said to me, “If you don’t learn the 3rd degree, then you’ll always just be a PM, not a true Past Master.”
I was hurt! That stung. I had certainly applied myself to get to and through being Worshipful Master. Why would he say such an inflammatory thing? It ate at me for a while, and I stewed on it. But as I thought about it, I started feeling like I was letting him down. After all, he had invested so much time in mentoring me during my journey. I set aside my feelings about what he said and asked him if he’d be available to meet with me and help me with the degree. He readily agreed.
It worked. I learned the 3rd degree, and, naturally, am glad I did. There is a sense of satisfaction difficult to explain to anyone who hasn’t mastered that degree. It also led to me taking a more active role in our district School of Instruction, which eventually led to my nomination to District Deputy Grand Master. I eventually looked back and realized that Brother Allen wasn’t trying to insult me with what he said, or be inflammatory. He was using the knowledge he’d gained of me during our time together to light a fire in me. He saw potential in me and chose the words he felt would motivate me further. I don’t believe I would be a District Deputy today if Brother Allen hadn’t taken the time to get to know me and find the way to motivate me.
I am a better man because Brother Allen took the time to mentor me.