St. James was the other son of Zebedee, both Apostles, but different than his brother John, the beloved disciple, James is among the earliest martyrs, another eliminated by Herod in his wrath.
Was he any less loved by God for not being spared a martyr's death? Hardly! Our faith teaches that the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church. James is a giant, as the centuries of pilgrimage to Compostela attest.
And yet, those who would enter into the mystery of Christ's love are discouraged from outright seeking martyrdom. The Blood of Christ is sufficient and our witness in faith to that Blood might just as well be a confessor's or a virgin's, like John, as that of a martyr, like James.
These days I am reading a 20th Century spiritual classic from 1946, The Soul of the Apostolate, which is very much about the personal prerequisites for fruitful ministry for the sake of the Gospel. The book condemns activism in no uncertain terms and teaches the cultivation of an interior life, a life of prayer, as indeed it is The Lord Jesus Who accomplishes everything.
Certainly, it was the faith of James, his sanctity of life, in communion with The Lord, Risen and Victorious over sin and death, which provoked Herod and crowned James with martyrdom. Not knowing which brother's lot will be ours, we must seek intimate union with Jesus and bend to His Holy Will. It cannot not be inspired by that boundless love which draws us to Him.