John Knox was called to public preaching in 1547 while in St. Andrews. It happened suddenly when John Rough was preaching. Rough charged him from the pulpit to take up the holy calling! A. M. Renwick writes,
John Knox, completely overcome, burst into tears and withdrew to his chamber … It is worth noting that, while Knox was absolutely fearless before men, his attitude before God was one of profound humility and reverence. Once he was satisfied that God had called him he never flinched in declaring the truth of the gospel to men. Yet so great was his sense of responsibility to the Most High that he almost trembled every time he assembled the pulpit steps to declare the Lord’s message. (The Story of the Scottish Reformation, p.42)
Of course, Knox followed a path that the apostle Paul marked out some 1500 years earlier when he said,
This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found trustworthy. But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God. (1 Corinthians 4:1-5)
With all the fuss around the net about how to plant churches and creative cultural engagement (which I am not knocking necessarily), it still remains a necessary fact: God must raise up the right kind of men – men of single-minded Christ-centredness and humility.