In the not so distant past, Grand Masters, Grand Wardens and other elected officials were selected by Past Grand Masters and then revealed at the Grand Communication. In recent years, that process has become more transparent and the membership has a greater say in the outcome.
The selection of District Deputy Grand Masters and Grand Lodge Staff Officers was a little more bizarre. In days gone by, if there were 12 lodges in the district, a rotation system was established so that each lodge would get a DDGM or GLSO about every 6 years. The downside to this process was that the selected Lodge would put up their next available candidate without regard to his qualifications or record. The end result was that most that filled these offices were mediocre at best.
The Grand Lodge of NY recognized the problem and in the mid 90’s they developed a plan based on qualifications rather than seniority or favoritism. Candidates for these positions had to “apply” listing their qualifications, vision, and agenda. They also had to meet certain requirements such as completing the MDC (Masonic Development Course) and the “Road To The East”, a course designed to help members while traveling to mastership of their Lodge.
This process was very successful for a number of years. However, in recent years, new challenges have arisen. As lodges and districts lose membership, leadership pickings have become scarce and members move to the east by jumping chairs only to crash and burn after they are masters. A new phenomenon is that members are actually jumping from lodge to lodge to see where they can sit in the East the quickest, and others are jumping from district to district for an earlier Right Worshipful appointment. This certainly was not the intent of the original program. The original program was designed to select the best candidates for the jobs they were best suited within the district.
Politics and political maneuvering have no place in the Fraternity. Men do not ascend to the Grand East because they are ambitious or greedy. They get there because they work hard for many years in their lodges and districts, they love the Fraternity and believe that it should survive, and they are firm in their convictions and integrity.
So who is to blame? Look around, Brothers, we are at fault. We do nothing to inspire leadership in our lodges and districts. In NY, the terms begin and end on even years so the next term is 2014-2016 which mimics the Grand Masters term of office. Now is the time that we should be looking for candidates for the 2016 term, not in 2015. A mentor should be selected for each potential candidate, much like the Lodge mentor for new members in Lodge. These individuals should commit to working with them for 2 years, making sure that they meet all requirements and posses the knowledge necessary to become a Grand Lodge Officer.
Keep in mind that just as every member is not entitled to be master of his lodge, so not every Past Master is entitled to be a Grand Lodge officer. We should strive for quality and not just a live body to fill the position. Look around, Brothers. Leadership abounds, you just have to draw it out.