Ego

Discussion in 'Masonic Education' started by My Freemasonry, Jan 4, 2016.

  1. big-ego-man.jpg
    All-too-frequently we hear of Masonic leaders being on an "ego trip." Or, we hear that they are "stumbling over their own egos." Then there are such remarks as, "He turned into a 'monster' after he went into office," or "whatever happened to 'meeting on the level'?"

    Those comments are not all without some foundation. There are, and have been, Masonic leaders who are carried away with their own importance. Yes, and there are some who let the title go to their heads, and who forget from whence they came.

    Ego is a strange thing. We all should have a certain amount of it to demonstrate our pride in our abilities, in our accomplishments, and in our self-respect. It is only when we get to the point that we tend to believe that we're better, smarter or more important than the next fellow that ego gets in our way.

    Masonry has never been considered a democratic society. The Master of a lodge is not only its leader, but more importantly he is its greatest servant. As such, he has an obligation to serve his lodge and his brethren, not for his own glory and honor, but for the good of the lodge. He must be prudent in all of his words and actions, and if necessary, subjugate his own desires to those of the lodge.

    Masters, though, are not the only ones whose egos have a tendency to hurt the Craft. Longfellow said, "Into each life some rain must fall...." The phrase might well be reworded to "In almost every lodge there is a nitpicker." Or so it seems. There are some of our brethren who are never satisfied. They look for an excuse to: criticize; to complain; to "jaw", to sound off; to grouch;--to nitpick. Their ego, as shown by their need to be heard, is frequently a thorn in the side of the Master and officers. They have a tendency to ruffle feathers.

    The Masonic Service Association recently received a letter from an irate Past Grand Master who had read in a Masonic publication a paper bearing the by-line of a Grand Lodge Officer in a sister jurisdiction. It was a good, thought provoking well-written article which caused the Past Grand Master to do added research on the topic.

    What prompted his ire and disgust was that in his research he came across a Short Talk Bulletin of twenty-five years ago which sounded very familiar. When he compared it with the recent publication, he found that it was word-for-word, sentence-by-sentence and paragraph-for-paragraph, identical to the Short Talk Bulletin, yet the "author" had not had the courtesy to give credit where credit was due. His ego had permitted him to let readers think it was his words and his thoughts.

    The story has been told of a Grand Master who was so puffed up with his own importance that his officers jokingly suggested that his theme song should be, "How Great Thou Art." Most of us have seen Masters of lodges who think that the title "Worshipful" was created just for their benefit.

    And then there are PAST officers whose egos won't let them relinquish the gavel. Two people with their hands on the steering wheel at the same time can make it an unpleasant trip for the other passengers. If the Master is not in control of the lodge, its an unpleasant experience for the brethren. The old expression, too many cooks spoil the broth, is equally applicable to the management of a lodge or a grand lodge.

    Yes! An overzealous ego can and does damage our Craft. It is a by-product of poor leadership traits, which we need to identify early in our progressive lines. In many cases, ego can be tempted by "whispering words of wise counsel in the ear of an erring brother." In a "worse-case scenario," when it is obvious that the over-blown ego cannot be controlled, it may be necessary to pass the brother over at the next election.

    In The Freemason's Monitor, written by Thomas Smith Webb in 1799, he observes: "that all, who accept offices and exercise authority, should be properly qualified to discharge the task assigned them, with honor to themselves, and credit to their sundry stations." The same is just as true almost two hundred years later.

    When elected to office, the brothers are confident that the one elected has the qualifications and ability to lead and has the best interests of the lodge at heart. He is expected to conform to the principle of the order, "by steadily persevering in the practice of very commendable virtue."

    An often-quoted verse, titled "The Indispensable Man," is frequently used to illustrate the unnecessary value of egotism. It bears repeating.

    Sometime when you're feeling important, Sometime when your ego's in bloom, Sometime when you take it for granted You're the best qualified in the room; Sometime when you feel that your going Would leave an unfillable hole Just follow these simple instructions And see how they humble your soul. Take a bucket and fill it with water Put your hand in it up to the wrist, Pull it out, and the hole that's remaining Is a measure of how you'll be missed. You can splash all you want when you enter, You may stir up the water galore: But stop, and you find that in no time It looks quite the same as before. The moral in this quaint example Is to do just the best that you can; Be proud of yourself, but remember There's no indispensable man.

    A noted management psychologist, Dr. James G. Carr of Charlotte, North Carolina, in an article in PACE magazine, summed it up this way:

    Power-hungry people do occupy high stations in life at times and some abuse their power; but to condemn all leaders on those grounds-including those whose primary motive was to serve or those who simply filled a vacuum left by the less competent or less motivated--is ridiculous.

    Even the selfish did not attain those positions by selfishness alone. With predictable exceptions, authority usually has something to do with accomplishment and contribution; and, in the final analysis, we may have to concede that those who get the most--whether selfishly motivated or not--are sometimes those who have given the most.

    The Master who completes his year in the East with satisfaction can quote those famous American philosophers, Bartles and Jaymes, by saying to the brethren, "Thank you for your support."

    - Source R.W. Stewart Pollard
     
  2. Warrior1256

    Warrior1256 Site Benefactor

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    We refer to it in a very similar way...."He has a problem putting down the gavel."

    This is a great article to contemplate on for all of us, especially those of us who hold office.
     
  3. pointwithinacircle2

    pointwithinacircle2 Rapscallion Premium Member

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    It is common in today's society to confuse the terms ego and egotistical. I believe that is exactly what this article has done. The ego is in fact the part of a person that is defined by the statement "I Am". The ego is the part of yourself that does does not need glory or accolades, not need to prove anything, does not gets it's value from anything outside itself.

    It is the man with the weak ego who needs to the approval of others, who will argue endlessly that he is right. A man with a strong ego, a strong sense of self, can patiently endure the criticism of others knowing that his position is secure. And if his position is defeated in a popular vote he can accept the will of the majority and walk away knowing that he did his best. Developing a strong ego should be the goal of every man and Mason, and it is the defining characteristic of maturity.

    If you believe that I have defined the ego incorrectly that is certainly your right. However I have certainly defined something, something to which I believe every man should aspire. If you think ego is the wrong term then I would ask; what do you think I have described?
     
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  4. Brother_Steve

    Brother_Steve Premium Member

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    question regarding the measuring stick...

    Who gets to define it?
     
  5. coachn

    coachn Coach John S. Nagy Premium Member

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    This write up backs you up: http://www.mind-development.eu/ego-autonomy.html
     
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  6. pointwithinacircle2

    pointwithinacircle2 Rapscallion Premium Member

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    Great question! One problem with this article is that the term "ego" is never defined.
     
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  7. coachn

    coachn Coach John S. Nagy Premium Member

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    Yes. It doesn't define it, BUT you can gather from how it is used that it has a pejorative meaning.

    If I could change only one thing about the article it would be adding the word "immature" or "undeveloped" in front of many of the instances (but not all) where the word "ego" is used.
     
  8. pointwithinacircle2

    pointwithinacircle2 Rapscallion Premium Member

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    Today I saw a reference to "the problems of egoism and egotism". I was unsure of the difference so I looked up both words.

    Egotism is defined as: the feeling or belief that you are better, more important, more talented, etc., than other people.
    Egoism is defined as: the theory that one's self is, or should be, the motivation and the goal of one's own action.

    It seems that actions directed toward taking care of one's self are preferable to merely thinking that one's self is better than others. However, I believe, taking care of the things greater than ourselves should be our ultimate goal. perhaps that begins when we surrender the belief that we are better then others and start working to improve our selves.
     
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  9. coachn

    coachn Coach John S. Nagy Premium Member

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    We take care of things greater that ourselves BY first taking the time to take care ourselves, not at the expense of others, but for the benefit of all involved.
     
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  10. MaineMason

    MaineMason Registered User

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    We have a great line of officers and by the way, for the first time in a long time, an Organist--which would be me. I must say that we're lucky because we have become friends as well as Brethren and have been faced early with some strange stuff and Blue Lodge is swimming along. Don't get me started on Trustees.
     
  11. Warrior1256

    Warrior1256 Site Benefactor

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    Wise words Coachn.
     
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  12. Masontruth

    Masontruth Registered User

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    A great article. Thank you.
     

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