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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Now when the other ten disciples heard about this, they became angry with James and John. Jesus called them over and said, “You know that the ones who are considered the rulers by the Gentiles show off their authority over them and their high-ranking officials order them around. But that’s not the way it will be with you. Whoever wants to be great among you will be your servant. Whoever wants to be first among you will be the slave of all, for the Human One didn’t come to be served but rather to serve and to give his life to liberate many people.”

Mark 10:41-45

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The word “servant” makes me think of butlers, maids, and mansions. Not too many people have butlers anymore, but people who can afford it still hire others to scrub toilets, rake leaves, and do other tasks they don’t want to do themselves. Given the choice, most of us would rather have servants than be servants.

Jesus’ idea of servanthood is a bit different. When all his apostles are fighting over who is the greatest, he tells them that if any among them truly want to be leaders, they first need to humble themselves. Instead of fighting for the most prestigious jobs, they should be volunteering for the most thankless ones.

To be disciples of Jesus in our own lives, we need to become not simply leaders but servant-leaders who care about the needs of others and are willing to take our turn at the jobs no one wants to do. Only when we embrace this kind of servanthood can we truly become great.

Catherine Healy

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Jesus, teach me how to be a servant. Help me to do my best work without worrying about who will get the credit, and help me humble myself in the eyes of the world so that I can be great in the eyes of God. 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

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