A Brother Asks: How do you know when you have completed the Apprentice Work?
My Response: Out of all the topics that are messed up in the minds of far too many Brothers, this is one of the top ten.
Background: There exists a huge swath of members who are of the mentality that, because one can never ever be "flawless", one can never not be an Apprentice. This is a misleading conclusion that is wrought by the wrongful application of a non-freemasonic religious doctrine that they have brought with them when they joined and applied upon the existing dogma of the Fraternity.
Apprentice Work is about Laying a Foundation. It is about Preparing to Build (Learn!). It is not about being flawless and it never was! It is about Building a Strong Foundation of Maturity.
How do you know when you have completed the Work of the first Degree? Great question! Let's go through the list (in no particular order):
- Proactive - You have Trained yourself to be Self-Initiating. You do not wait for others to Prompt you toward taking actions that you know need to be taken.
- Vision - You have Developed and Embraced a Clear Vision as to what you need to do to Mature.
- Improvement - You know what Betterment means to you and for you. You have focused your Energies upon bringing this about and do so without excuse.
- Importance - You know what's Important to you and what is not.
- Choices & Decisions - You make Better, and more importantly, More Mature Choices & Decisions because you know what is Important and what is not.
- Priorities - You focus upon things that are important. You do not participate long or frequently in any activities that are unimportant.
- Self-Knowledge - You are not in denial about who you truly are and what you do. You know yourself very well and because you do, you come to know others very well too, sometimes even better than they know themselves.
- Values - You know what you Value, what you don't Value and why. You do not profess or claim false values.
- Morality - You know your Morals and can express them clearly and succinctly. What's more, you know where you are immoral, the consequences of that immorality and willingly embrace the liabilities involved and without excuse.
- Standards - You have Established Specific Standards to which you make every effort to live authentically and without excuse.
- Time Management - You use time more effectively first and then you use time more efficiently.
- Divestment - You have become skilled in both...
- Identifying Superfluities & Vices and
- Successfully Divesting yourself of them once identified.
- Investment - You make every effort to practice Virtues and you have Integrated them into your daily manners.
- Circumscription - You know what your Passions are and you Employ Successful Methods that keep them Circumscribed.
- Subduing - You know what your Desires are and Employ Successful Methods that keep them Subdued.
- Boundaries - You Successfully both Establish and Maintain your Boundaries as needed and appropriate to those with which you deal.
- Integrity - You know where you have Integrity and where you lack Integrity.
- Civility - You Integrate your knowledge, morality, awareness and skill sets effectively and considerately into all your daily dealings.
- Responsibility - You Embrace Responsibility for what you know you need to be doing to Mature and Maintain Maturity.
- Accountability - You...
- Stand By;
- Willingly Embrace; and
- Have Trained yourself not to Outrun by Excuse
Will you do all this flawlessly? Probably not. But that was never truly the goal. The Goal was to...
- Lay the Foundation, and
- Put these Activities on Auto-Pilot
Here's an Apprentice Work Acid Test: If you want to know if Brothers are either doing or have done the Apprentice Work, just go through the above list and evaluate their Progress. Are they still struggling on any of these items? It should become evident to you by their manner, self-knowledge and personal discipline whether they are doing or have done the work.
However, I tend to use a short cut acid test. I get them involved in a conversation about whether they are still Apprentices. The moment they drift into the "We're all Apprentices" territory, it's pretty clear to me that they are and very likely have no clue what the actual Apprentice Work is and what it is Intended to Do for those who do it. With such persons, discussing or using such an assessment list at all would be an unnecessary act.
Brother John S. Nagy