Dear Dedicated Members for Change,
Grand Master Peter Sellars committed himself to writing a monthly message to Odd Fellows, and he keeps his commitments. I have come to know Peter very well over the past years as we have served together in a number of responsible positions. Peter is a straight-shooter, a problem-solver, a decision-maker, and a man of high integrity. It is my pleasure to pass along Peter’s monthly message at this time.
F – L – T
Past Grand Master
THE NECESSARY DECISIONS BY A GRAND MASTER ARE SOMETIMES NOT POPULAR – THE GRAND MASTER’S MESSAGE – INTEGRITY
INTEGRITY is at the core of my important principles of life. This is a word that was pounded into every Marine, with whom I served, over and over. It had a lot to do with following through on tasks and responsibilities, even when no one was watching. For the leaders of our units, it had to do with following the military law and rules and orders of superiors.
Ever hear the phrase, “The truth hurts”? Integrity has a lot to do with being honest – honest to yourself and to those you serve. In this case, it is a Grand Master who must sometimes be called upon to make tough decisions and be “pulled off the fence.” We accept an obligation to uphold our codes and laws and rules. If the Grand Master does not speak up or enforce these rules, when the matter arises, then what good is he or she as a leader?
I write this message, because in my short four months as the Grand Master, I have had to make several difficult decisions and speak up on certain matters, that I knew would be difficult for some members to accept. I can tell you in my decision-making, I relied on our Ritual and our code, as well as the tradition I had been taught. I followed the oath I had sworn to follow. My decisions were not always “popular” but they have a strong basis.
I can tell you that I do receive messages each time I make a decision or correct a situation to conform to code. I must remind these members of the code and what it is we are supposed to be following. Again, I am operating in the capacity of this jurisdiction’s leader – its Grand Master.
As Noble Grands and officers of your lodges, you also have the same obligation, because you took an oath, too. You must make the tough decisions. And, INTEGRITY must play an important role in your decision making process. This is a character trait. If you fail to have integrity, you compromise yourself and your character.
Brothers and sisters, you know what is right and wrong. Practicing integrity means you follow the Ritual and the code, as well as government laws. For example, if only five members come to their scheduled meeting night, do they conduct a meeting? Do they follow the Ritual? Or, do they sit around a table and drink beverages and talk about the weekâ€™s events? If you practice integrity, you conduct a bare bones meeting and follow the Ritual.
In other instances, as Grand Master, I have been called upon and appealed to, to make decisions on more than a handful of matters. If a lodge asks me to make a decision, it must understand, that I am going to refer to the code and render a decision. I cannot deviate from what is in the code, even if the decision is not going to be acceptable to the lodge who asked me to render such a decision. That is integrity and is not always popular.
In another situation, I was faced with taking the initiative and correcting one of our boards (on a state level), which I shall not name, with ceremonial responsibilities. By code, the Grand Master has the authority over the ceremonial affairs of the Order operating under the charter granted by the Grand Lodge. When, the Grand Master and the appointed officers were not included in one state level event, I corrected some members and reminded them of the code passage. This is integrity and taking responsibility.
As expected, the Grand Master inherits unresolved issues upon taking office, from his predecessor. Activities such as audits do not stop in the middle just because an individual retires from office. When I took over office, I directed that controversial audit be completed. Some were under the impression the audit would never be completed. This is another example of integrity.
As Grand Master, one must keep pushing hard to correct things and get others to move in the right direction. Twice, I have moved a lodge from a district in order to ease tensions and encourage members to step up and become deputies of their districts. This worked in one district. I am not sure of the other district. Still, this is an action I felt necessary to meet the primary goal of members being fraternal (as a family) to one another. The actions are not always accepted by members; but they are equally demanded, if I am to practice integrity. To date, we have only three districts without deputies. At the beginning of my term, we had nine.
Finally, if my “reputation” is going to be “tarnished” as one member warned me, because of my integrity and the practicing of the code and Ritual, then, let it be so. My principles shall be mine, my reputation shall be mine, and I shall know I did the best job I could. I shall not stop, but push harder. I know my reputation better than anyone else. INTEGRITY is one of my watchwords this year.
F – L – T