At the beginning of the Ceremony of Initiation, the candidate is told that he should "...follow his [your] leader with a firm but humble confidence...". In doing so, he begins a symbolic journey from darkness to light, from Masonic ignorance to Masonic knowledge. With this in mind, the role of a new Mason's Personal Mentor is to act as his guide, leader and coach, enabling him to undertake his journey successfully and without undue delay. Indeed, it is the Personal Mentor's responsibility to explain the workings, traditions and structure of our institution; to lift the veil of allegory and reveal the meaning behind our symbols. This will enable the new Mason to enjoy and understand the organisation he has recently joined.
Mentoring schemes put personal Masonic development at the very heart of Freemasonry, promoting the life-long development of every member by providing informed and accessible supporting material, and by recommending the most effective personal mentoring arrangements. Successful mentoring schemes typically involve a single Lodge Mentor, who is responsible for the operation of the mentoring programme within his own Lodge (a "mentoring scheme manager", for want of better words), and a team of Personal Mentors who work under the direction of the Lodge Mentor and have individual responsibility for the mentoring of their assigned mentees.
"Mentoring underpins the retention of the brethren. It encourages them to become active members of their Lodges and to serve as Ambassadors for Freemasonry."
Who should serve as a Personal Mentor?
It is clear that there has to be a special relationship between a new Mason and his Personal Mentor. The initial and obvious choice of Personal Mentor may be the new Mason’s Proposer or Seconder; however, this decision should not be made without careful consideration, as the Personal Mentor selected must have particular qualities and the time available to perform his duties without interruption. Indeed, it has been observed many times that the greatest difficulty in operating a successful mentoring scheme is to identify and allocate suitable Personal Mentors, and this process will require the input of a knowledgable and experienced Lodge Mentor.
The first and most important attribute of a Personal Mentor is that he relates to his assigned mentee, that they get on well together and enjoy each other’s company. This is perhaps the most important factor to consider. When the mentoring relationship is established, the Personal Mentor will introduce his mentee to his friends in the Lodge, thus increasing his circle of friends and helping him to feel at home. It is likely, but not necessary, that the Personal Mentor will be of a similar age to his mentee, and this should be an early factor for a Lodge Mentor to consider before allocating a Personal Mentor to a new Mason.
It might be that a Personal Mentor may have become a Mason relatively recently, perhaps within the previous five years, and may not therefore have the in-depth knowledge required to fulfil his task. If the view is taken that only knowledgeable and experienced Masons are able to act as Personal Mentors, it is likely they will be of a different generation to their mentees, and whilst they may relate to one another, the new Mason may find himself in the company of men who are much older than himself, and who have very different interests. Clearly, the most appropriate personal match is paramount, and whilst the length of membership, knowledge and experience should be taken into account, it should not prevent a Lodge Mentor from asking a newer Mason to serve as a Personal Mentor. (When a Personal Mentor is himself new to Freemasonry, he will require additional support from his Lodge Mentor.)