I get the meaning that it is supposed to convey: The more we put into it, the more we can expect to get out of it. That’s simple and it’s logical. If one does not practice his golf swing, his score on the course is not likely to improve. In the same way, if a new Mason gets his Degrees and never again darkens the door of the Lodge, he will be ill-equipped to strengthen his character or deepen the fraternal ties with his fellow Masons.Let me explain, though, why I take some exception to it.
I believe that it is inaccurate, in that what you put in, (the thing), in no way resembles what you get out. You may spend dozens, even hundreds of hours over the course of several months learning to confer a degree that lasts only an hour. In return you get the supreme honor of helping another on his quest to be the best man he can be. Likewise, when you donate to Masonic charities, you give money. What you get back is the pride in knowing that your contribution to the Masonic Children’s Home or Masonic Youth groups helps pass on the core beliefs of the Craft to the next generation. Likewise, giving to Masonic Villages helps by caring for those who came before you. As a Mason, when you give time, you may receive honor. If you give money, you may receive a sense of pride. So what you get out is not what you put in.Next, I believe that the saying is inadequate. I firmly believe that Masonry has given me far, far more than I could ever hope to give back. I never believed (and still have a hard time comprehending) that when the blindfold was lifted from my eyes, I would find myself in the presence of an ever-widening family – Brothers who would, with equal exuberance, celebrate my joys or help me in my darkest hours. They – you – would do so without question or hope of gain. Likewise, the few hours spent mentoring a new member is paid back with a lifetime friendship. The bonds which I have forged because of Freemasonry are deep, they are genuine and they are ineffable. Did I get out what I put in? Not even close. Freemasonry has enriched me beyond my expectations.
We live in a culture that puts personal wellbeing ahead of the greater good. Volunteerism is low, and membership in religious groups and fraternal organizations has continued to decline. There are many who believe that they are indeed the “I” in “society” and as its central letter, they should be worshipped and adored. They look at service and ask, “What’s in it for me?” As Freemasons, we must look at service and ask, “What’s in it from me?”
Now is the time when Lodges should begin planning for the ensuing year. Now, therefore, is the time for you to volunteer. It doesn’t matter which Lodge you belong to, your Lodge needs you. No Lodge is so flush with volunteers, be it for the Officer Line, as a Mentor, or even the pancake breakfast committee, that you will be turned away.
Whether you are an Entered Apprentice or a three-time Past Master, consider the call to service. Dedicate yourself to becoming Worshipful Master and your Brethren will be there to help you. Mentor and you will open up the world of Freemasonry and her lessons to men eager to dedicate themselves to something good. Volunteer with the youth and strengthen the foundation upon which the next generation may build.
Will you get out of it what you put into it? Absolutely not.
And isn't that a beautiful thing?