As long as you are proud you cannot know God. A proud [person] is always looking down on things and people: and, of course, as long as you are looking down you cannot see something that is above you.

from Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis (1952)

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James and John, Zebedee’s sons, came to Jesus and said, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask.”

“What do you want me to do for you?” he asked.

They said, “Allow one of us to sit on your right and the other on your left when you enter your glory.”

Mark 10:35-37

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When I was little, I was obsessed with being “the favorite.” I wanted to be my teachers’ favorite student and my parents’ favorite child. As children, we depend on adults for almost everything, so of course we want proof that they love us — to the point of asking them over and over, “Am I your favorite?”

James and John remind us that we never really grow out of feeling this way. When they ask to sit beside Jesus in heaven, they are really asking, “Are we your favorites?”

The question seems arrogant, but their arrogance is really insecurity. James and John can’t bring themselves to ask Jesus for what they really want: simple reassurance that he loves them and will never leave them.

Most of us can relate. When we’re afraid of rejection, we pretend we don’t care; when we’re afraid of failing, we pretend we’re too cool to try. But if we trust in Jesus, we can abandon our fears and discover the freedom that comes not from false arrogance, but from true humility.

Catherine Healy

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Jesus, sometimes I get caught up in my own fear of not being good enough, and it can make me act arrogant or unkind. Help me remember that you will always love me, no matter what, and that I can find true freedom in you. Amen.

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When the dreams you’re dreamin’ come to you,

when the work you put in is realized,

let yourself feel the pride,

but always stay humble and kind.

from “Humble and Kind” by Lori McKenna (2015)

Catherine Healy

Rev. Catherine Healy is the assistant rector at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Wellesley, Massachusetts. She is always up for a bike ride, and shares life with her spouse and two cats. You can find her online at

Come Thou Fount

Jim McConnell

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