Freemasonry can boast a pretty impressive membership list including names such as Theodore Roosevelt, Sir Alexander Fleming, and Mark Twain. And while one of the reasons cited for wanting to become a Freemason is the desire to emulate the greats, it’s perhaps not the footsteps of Mark Twain a man wants to trace, more those of his neighbor or colleague whom he greatly admires and respects. And knowing that this man is a Freemason can be what motivates the individual to apply for membership.
The belief that a man will—as proclaimed by Freemasonry—“improve” himself, in a spiritual and philosophical sense, is understandably reason enough for most men to want to join the fraternity. However, Freemasonry is a little like volunteering in that those who sign up probably don’t give a lot of thought as to how they might benefit personally, and use the skills and expertise they will undoubtedly acquire to improve and enhance their everyday lives.
Election to Freemasonry and the subsequent initiation process into a lodge can greatly reinforce a man’s self-esteem. Knowing that the men he admires and respects have placed their trust in him, can increase a man’s confidence and encourage him to want to prove himself worthy of that trust. This confidence-building process, which continues as a man progresses through the Masonic degrees, can have a positive effect on many other areas of a Freemason’s life.
Freemasonry can also offer a man the chance to learn skills he might not have the chance to acquire elsewhere. For example, public speaking and chairing a meeting are both activities a man will carry out as part of a Masonic ritual, and as such Freemasonry provides a good training opportunity. Memorizing large sections of text and specific hand gestures, also needed to perform Masonic rituals, requires mental exercise that an individual probably wouldn’t undertake outside of the Masonic arena. Lodges can also offer a man the chance to express talents that he might never get an opportunity to try out elsewhere. For example, involvement in a fund-raising event could reveal a talent hidden to date, and encourage a man to pursue it outside of Freemasonry.
As well as the personal benefits of Freemasonry, one shouldn’t forget that if Freemasonry achieves its proclaimed purpose in developing the individual on a spiritual, intellectual and philosophical level, then it’s not only the individual who benefits, but society as a whole.