Presented by Bro. Ian Dorge. Victoria BC & Adapted by V.W.Bro. Norman McEvoy
Worshipful Master, Brethren, three of the last four Grand Masters, including our current Grand Master has identified mentorship as an important part of the educational program. I read a paper delivered in this lodge in 1989 titled “After the Third Degree?” where the author comments on the requirement of sponsorship after a brother has been raised to the third degree.
What R.W. Brother A. Charlton was alluding to in this paper was mentorship. Mentorship has been discussed for some time within our fraternity, but with little positive effect, as demonstrated by our declining and non attending membership.
The first and foremost question is “what is mentorship”?
What is formal and informal mentoring? Are we a mentor or a protégé? How do we mentor? What impact can mentorship have on inactive or declining membership?
There are many more questions to be asked but aforementioned questions are a good starting point.
What is mentorship? Wikipedia provides the following:- Mentoring is a process for the informal transmission of knowledge, social capital, and the psychosocial support perceived by the recipient as relevant to work, career, or professional development; mentoring entails informal communication, usually face-to-face and during a sustained period of time, between a person who is perceived to have greater relevant knowledge, wisdom, or experience (the mentor) and a person who is perceived to have less (the protégé)” (Bozeman, Feeney, 2007). This can be easily translated to Freemasonry which we will see later.
Now we know what mentoring is, we can now discuss what mentoring isn’t. Coaching is not mentoring. Coaching is development of skills. Our coaching is directed at developing memory work and public speaking.
We are as an organization are outstanding coaches. We are very diligent at supplying coaches to assist new candidates through the degrees. These coaches teach our new candidates pages and pages of memory work to get them through degrees, very effectively. Some form of mentorship may take place here but on a very low level. The organizational and coaches priority is to get the candidates to become Master Masons as soon as reasonably possible. The end result is very little time is spent discussing the candidate’s future or participation within Freemasonry.
Education is an essential part of a Freemason’s life. Education or instruction is teaching new knowledge or confirming knowledge already gained.
Again as an organization we are very good at ensuring that education is a center piece of our lives. We include at every opportunity, in meetings, at training sessions, and leadership weekends.
The education in almost all situations is a form of one way communication from the expert to the students or in our situation Education Officer to Lodge Members. For the most part this education is not interactive it is strictly one way information flow. Rarely is there any follow up or discussion or questions. This is not mentorship as it was defined earlier.
Formal mentorship is the directed interaction of the mentor and protégé.
In a formal setting mentors and protégés are paired for the gain of the organization. This formal mentoring process has defined goals or objectives and established timeframes. Often very easily attainable goals or objectives are put in place, these should be measurable thus allowing for the program to be evaluated and its success determined.
The advantage is that immediately a person has an identifiable contact within the organization with which to communicate that & is often not directly their superior.
The disadvantage in this process is there may be conflict or personal tension between the mentor and the protégé because they are not well matched for each other. This personal tension or disagreement can defeat the mentoring process very very quickly
Informal mentorship is simply that. The mentor chooses a protégé by his own determination. The mentor can establish the protégé’s requirements and work to fulfill these needs. Here the mentorship is begun by the mentor but the process is completed by the protégé when he has decided that there is no longer any requirement to carry on the process.
The informal mentoring process has no time limit or defined objective. These objectives are determined by agreement of the mentor and protégé. There can be more than one mentor for a protégé as different people offer various ideas, and different viewpoints. The whole point of informal mentorship is that is just that informal. That being said a mentor can be too informal and that will easily defeat the process.
If the process is to rely upon a protégé to ask, the mentor may be waiting a long time for the questions to begin. Also in an informal mentoring process a mentor can choose a protégé but the protégé must be in agreement. The same applies here that applied to formal mentorship =======the mentor must be suited to protégé or the process or relationship will be unfulfilling for each of them.
Within Freemasonry you can see we are very suited to the informal style of mentorship. The comment about participation is relevant. We have an entire lodge of potential mentors every time we initiate a new candidate. The problem with informal mentoring within our organization is that someone MUST step forward and start the conversation.
In virtually every lodge there are brethren with a great amount of knowledge and experience and are long serving members. This could include Grand Masters, District Deputies and, Worshipful Masters who could meet these needs for sharing within the lodge and to new lodge members especially. There is great potential to mentor within all lodges and this potential should be utilized to the fullest extent.
Each one of us is a mentor & a protégé. We are constantly developing within Freemasonry.
Older, more experienced members have mentors of their own that they draw on as required. The newer brothers will most certainly draw on the experience and knowledge of the more senior brethren.
This leads to the next question how to mentor. I have read a few books in preparing this paper and discovered what I thought was simple and straight forward concept can be turned into a complicated morass of ideas and terminology. Fortunately the basics of mentoring seem to remain constant however one chooses to refer to them. There are four distinct divisions within the mentoring process. These divisions are
the effective listener,
the map maker,
and the graduate.
We will discuss each of these divisions in detail, as well as how do they relate to our fraternity.
Effective listening is probably one of hardest skills to master. We all hear, some better than others. There are whole seminars dedicated to effective listening. I will attempt to summarize and provide some relevant information. Effective listening is bringing all of your attention to bear on the person speaking to you. We communicate both verbally and nonverbally.
We determine the tone, intent and value of statement often by the nonverbal or physical characteristics of the speaker.
When you are listening effectively you are entirely focused on the person speaking, your mind is clear, just receiving the information and not passing judgment on the content. You are working to understand what is said and what is not said. That is a brief summary of what effective listening is and how it is practiced. You can see this would be extremely difficult to do at a lodge meeting or festive board. To mentor and effectively listen, you need to have coffee or a quiet conversation with your protégé. You could phone but in the beginning you need to be with physical proximity of your protégé to see the unspoken commentary.
The map making phase is entirely resultant on the listening stage. Where you proceed from the listening stage will be entirely dependent on what was discussed. You as the mentor are well aware of the opportunities available in the Masonic world. This can include visiting different lodges to see different work or perhaps connecting a newly raised brother with a concordant body. These decisions are things that you recommend to you protégé. You can never demand from a protégé, you can only encourage, help, assist, inform, enlighten and provide insight. You can never demand from you protégé, this is the easiest way to terminate the mentorship process. Where you and your protégé go next will depend entirely on his wants and desires within Freemasonry and you knowledge and ability to help him.
Confirmation of the progress you and your protégé have made is the next step. This is where you revisit the initial conversations and the map that developed, and ensure that you have accomplished all that you and your protégé have set out to do. This phase is where you will spend most of your time in the mentorship process. This is where things will be considered and reevaluated constantly. You will continue to advise and suggest and get the protégé to rethink his initial goals and observations. As your protégé continues to develop his goals and aspirations may change. As you move further through the mentorship process your protégé will require you less and less. This is not a negative reflection on you the mentor but your protégé is gaining more and more self reliance. Eventually you will only be providing a brief comment only occasionally.
The graduating of a protégé without a formal graduation ceremony can be a challenge. This phase is a little saddening as well as rewarding. While I have identified this as the last stage this may come elsewhere in the order. The prime requirement is that you protégé is now mentoring others. So as you can see you can start to mentor someone and shortly thereafter he can begin mentoring. This has happened to me as I am still being mentored while I have taken on mentoring. This is one of the benefits of mentoring within our fraternity. It is also another way to get a brother involved before he stops attending to lodge meetings.
Can mentorship help reduce declining or non attending membership? I recently visited a lodge that identified that it had eighty-one members but had just enough Brothers to put on Fellow Craft Degree in attendance. In another instance during an official visit another lodge had barely sufficient members to fill all of requisite positions.
I have been led to believe that these occurrences are not uncommon. I have also observed positive mentorship in a few of the lodges with EAs and Fellow Craft have visiting other lodges.
Mentorship does not need to be long or formal it simply needs to be started. By connecting with a Brother and staying connected with him you can do a great deal to diminish demits and reduced attendance. Often, not always, a Brother stops attending because he no longer feels connected to his lodge or the fraternity. This can significantly reduced by mentorship. At this time email will not be sufficient, you must find a way to talk to your brother. Sending the lodge communication in the email will not encourage a brother to attend a meeting. You must connect with the brethren within your lodges, give them a reason to attend.
In closing I would ask each and every one of you to become involved in the mentorship process. Don’t stand by and watch bothers demit or lose connection with you, your brethren, the lodge, and the craft. I leave you with this thought
“we are each us of angels with only one wing, we can only fly by embracing each other”.
Brethren, I am certain that each and every one of us recalls the ceremonies where we were the candidate being initiated and wondering what is & what has happened.
This paper, presented by a fellow brother here in Victoria BC, has some very excellent thoughts & ideas on this matter & I have the pleasure of sharing those thoughts and ideas with you.
Have a wonderful Day & God Bless