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  • The Very Reverend Susan Crothers-Robertson

18th June 2023 - 3rd Sunday after Pentecost

Updated: Oct 30, 2023

Genesis 18:1-5

Ps 116: 1-2, 11-18

Romans 5:1-11

Matthew 9:35-10:8


In the name of God, Earth-maker, Pain Bearer, Life Giver. Amen.



I wonder if anyone has seen or heard this saying? “Only a life lived to the service of others, is worth living.” (Albert Einstein.) You get a gold star if you recognise it as the quote used by Botero Coffee. My husband and I have enjoyed exploring the area of Grafton and beyond. And a few weeks ago, we went to Maclean. Linda recommended Botero Coffee. I have to say I had the best decaf, almond cappuccino. It is here I saw the quote. I believe this quote lends itself to today’s sermon. As the readings speak about generous hospitality and servant leadership, service to others.


It was so exciting to serve with Tiffany last week and be working with Kay Hart, both were my students when I was Director of Formation as St Francis Theological college. Both are now my seniors in the hierarchal sense, and I could not be filled with more joy.

For me leadership, or servant leadership is about service. As leaders we need to ask ourselves, do those who we serve grow to their full potential, do they themselves grow as leaders. Leadership is not about me and what I do, or how good I am, but more about making space for people to grow.



In the psalm we are told, God hears the people’s voice – and the psalmist asks, “how do I repay the God who takes the time to listen to me, - I am your servant.” God hears us, and in response to God hearing us and listening to us, we can choose to live a life of service.


In Romans we are told, God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to all of us. Knowing God’s love is in our hearts, helps us to be servant leaders, because our leadership is to be grounded in God’s love.


In the Matthew reading Jesus saw the crowds and he had compassion for them. Jesus said the harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few- therefore pray to God to send out more labourers for the harvest. It sounds a little like us, the labourers are few. But I like Jesus’ response, pray to God to send more people.

I have been reflecting on this, while we would love more people to join us, we need to ask why, is it just to fill the rosters? One author suggested, “The stories we tell ourselves matter, we respond far more to stories than we do facts.” What stories do we tell ourselves? Do we inhibit growth within ourselves? Within our community. Perhaps we can change the stories we tell ourselves, perhaps we could say, we would love people to join our community not because we need people to do this or do that. Perhaps the story we could be saying is, we want people to join our community because we want them to experience God’s all-embracing love. And in knowing that love, they will choose to serve others.


I bet Jesus’ followers were telling themselves stories, when Jesus asked them to be disciples, to be leaders and spread God’s love, they may have said, I am not good enough to lead, have we said that to ourselves? I certainly have. When I felt called to be a priest, the story I told myself was, I’m not good enough to lead. What’s yours?


And here’s the best part when Jesus summons the disciples. They were a motley crew, the first apostle, Peter, was the one that denies Jesus three times, then the last one called, Judas, he was the one that betrayed Jesus. Yet Jesus is calling them to be his disciples, to be the labourers, to lead. As I said earlier, we often say I’m not good enough to lead, yet here is Jesus calling the most amazingly different people. In a way he is not choosy, he is saying we are all God’s disciples, we are called to leadership. And this was talked about a few weeks ago when we gathered to talk with the Bishop to talk about our new Dean, we all said that we were all leaders, and here to support one another.


One of my favourite writers on leadership is Robert Greenleaf, to me this is the clue into real leadership, and in some way takes away the weighty expectation that we must be, good enough, to be well trained, or to be an extraordinary talented person to lead. And in the reading from Genesis, Abraham with his generous hospitality enacts the leadership I am continually trying to live up to, “Abraham rushes out to meet the strangers, he offers them water to wash their feet, and a place to rest, he says, “since you have come to your servant.” Abraham is their servant, he serves them first.


Robert Greenleaf says of servant leadership, “The servant-leader is servant first… It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead. That person is sharply different from one who is leader first, perhaps because of the need to assuage an unusual power drive or to acquire material possessions…The leader-first and the servant-first are two extreme types. Between them there are shadings and blends that are part of the infinite variety of human nature.


“The difference manifests itself in the care taken by the servant-first to make sure that other people’s highest priority needs are being served. The best test, and difficult to administer, is: Do those served grow as persons? Do they, while being served, become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants? And, what is the effect on the least privileged in society? Will they benefit or at least not be further deprived?” Servant leadership is about serving others, and in serving others, do they grow to their full potential.



In the short time I have been here I have seen servant leadership exercised by many people who are so giving of their time here at the Cathedral. I have seen generous hospitality and people leading from the heart. This is how I try to live out my calling. And I can imagine that motley crew of disciples with their down to earth ordinariness may have tried to do likewise, but like us all, failed along the way. God calls us into servant leadership, and the way of knowing whether we are real leaders is whether the people we serve have grown.


As we reflect on growth, servant leadership and generous hospitality, today we welcome into the community of Christ, little Evie. Evie’s parents, Penny and Josh, bring Evie to be baptised because they want something more for Evie, they are not sure what that is, but there is something about bringing her here today, with family and friends, that is important to them. So today we open our hearts, and welcome with God’s love, Evie and her family. And perhaps one day, Evie will feel called to be a leader, and we pray that she may lead a life lived in service to others. Amen.




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