By Randy Rudge, Membership Development Director, Shriners International
If you were asked, “What does your Shriner membership mean to you?” How would you respond?
A few years ago, I was asked to do a Shriner membership presentation. I worked for months preparing what I would say and do. But, the night before the presentation I realized that it was nothing like I wanted it to be. So I decided I wasn’t going to do a presentation at all. I was going to listen.
At the beginning of each workshop I had each member think about and write down why he became a Shriner. Then, I asked each to write his two proudest moments as a Shriner. I realize that for many it was hard to pick just two, but I wanted the first two memories that came to mind.
What the attendees didn’t know was that each of them was going to share what he had written. That became the most inspirational workshop I have ever participated in.
What we heard were the true tenants of Freemasonry and the principles of our Shriners Creed. While there were inspiring stories regarding the children we serve in our hospitals, many of the stories dealt with the brotherly love and fellowship that are only achieved by being a member.
When I think back about my membership, I think about the incredible friends I have made and how they have become my extended family. How they have lent a hand and listened when I was in need, shared a laugh, dedicated their time and made me their friend.
But most of all, I think of my membership as an incredible bond between me and my father.
I remember the pride he expressed when I became a Shriner, all the responsibilities I took on, and the endless discussions with our mutual friends. And the fun we had together.
My dad passed away four years ago on March 6, after a long illness. During his illness, he had not been out of the house for many months, but he decided to attend a Shriners’ function. At the event, we sat him in a chair and noble after noble came up to him to shake his hand and say hello.
Dropping him off at his home later that evening, I gave him a hug and said goodnight. I will always remember him looking back at me with tears in his eyes and thanking me. That was the last time he went out in public.
After listening to many stories similar to mine during the workshop, I asked the attendees what they learned from the exercise. What they said was that they experienced a lot of emotion, pride, love and fellowship in that room.
My message is simple: As Shriners and leaders, it is our responsibility to guide others so that they achieve the same emotion, pride and fellowship we experience as Shriners. When we do, our organization will prosper.
Now, I ask each of you to write down why you became a Shriner and your two proudest moments as a Shriner. If you would like to share your story, please e-mail me through Feztivities.
Thank you all for being Shriners.