Every Independent Order of Odd Fellows Lodge has one. Sometimes, more than one.
I’m talking about (on the positive side) “the most knowledgeable member”. Or (on the negative side) “the member who knows everything.” These are typically long-time members who have a history with the Lodge and an understanding of the codes, rules and rituals of Odd Fellowship. They have probably served as Noble Grand of the Lodge – perhaps a decade or two ago – and they continue to serve in some capacity. Often they sit for years in the Secretary’s chair or the Treasurer’s chair, or serve as Right or Left Supporter of the Noble Grand.
Just like Kings, these members can be kind and helpful, or they can be dictatorial and manipulative.
These are the members whom you go to if you want to know about serving in an elected or appointed office in the Lodge, or about Grand Lodge sessions, or what happens if a member fails to pay his/her dues during the year, or whether an associate member can be elected Noble Grand, or where the regalia is located, or the myriad other questions that pop up in the course of Lodge life. These are the members who probably have keys to everything. These (sometimes) are also the members who can’t seem to let go. It is normal and natural for the long-time older members to step to the side to allow the newer younger members to assume more and more authority and responsibility. That’s one reason that the term of the Noble Grand is one year, and it is common for a new NG to be elected every year.
No one is ever indispensable, and the normal life cycle certainly proves that to be the case. Yet some of these members hang on by their fingernails, declining to allow younger, capable members the opportunity to learn, grow and serve the Lodge and the Order. These self-anointed “indispensables” refuse to try anything new or innovative. The old ways, to them, are always best. And their typical responses to attempts to think outside the box is “that’s against the Code” or “we tried that years ago and it doesn’t work.”
So, a word of advice to these “members who know everything”: The greatest contribution you can now make to the health of your Lodge and the success of the Order is to impart your knowledge to the next generation of members. Take a more passive role as the trusted elder and wise advisor. Step a bit to the side and let the next generation of leaders develop, learn, flourish and lead.
F – L – T
Past Grand Master
IOOF, Jurisdiction of California
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