The Leadership Influence of John Knox

UnknownJohn Knox is considered the greatest reformer in the history of Scotland. He was born in 1513 near Edinburgh and died in 1572. Within that 59 year span he became a Catholic priest, was converted to Christ in 1545, served as a French galley slave for 19 months, came under the teaching influence of John Calvin, was arrested and tried for treason under Queen Mary Stuart in 1560, and had great influence for the cause of Christ at Edinburgh and St. Andrews. He defied monarchies and faithfully preached the gospel. He suffered without wavering for the cause of Christ.

At his funeral it was said of him, “Here lyeth a man who in his life never feared the face of man, who hath been often threatened with dagger, but yet hath ended his dayes in peace and honour.”

John Knox penned The History of Reformation in Scotland. If leadership is influence, then Knox was certainly one of the greatest leaders Scotland has ever seen. Conviction is born in times of trial. John Knox, as revealed in the quotes below, was surely a man of conviction. We can learn from him.

Here are just some of the quotes attributed to him.

None have I corrupted, none have I defrauded; merchandise have I not made.

A man with God is always in the majority.

It is not birth only, nor propinquity of blood, that makes a king lawfully to reign above a people professing Christ Jesus and his eternal verity; but in his election must the ordinance, which God has established in the election of inferior judges, be observed.

No one else holds or has held the place in the heart of the world which Jesus holds. Other gods have been as devoutly worshipped; no other man has been so devoutly loved.

You cannot antagonize and influence at the same time.

I have never once feared the devil, but I tremble every time I enter the pulpit.

As the world is wearie of me so am I of it.

But hereof be assured, that all is not lawful nor just that is statute by civil laws; neither yet is everything sin before God, which ungodly persons allege to be treason.

I will keep the ground that God has given me and perhaps in his grace, he will ignite me again. But ignite me or not, in his grace, in his power, I will hold the ground.

I will be of no other church except of that which hath Christ Jesus to be pastor, which hears his voice and will not hear a stranger.

Give me Scotland else I die.

You might consider one of these two biographies:

The Mighty Weakness of John Knox, by Douglass Bond

The Life of John Knox, by Thomas McCrie

3 replies
  1. Sinner & Saint
    Sinner & Saint says:

    This statement is disappointing, “he became a Catholic priest, was converted to Christ in 1545,” I thought Larry Spears said a characteristic of a servant leader is healing. This reads of anti-Catholicism. Your leadership message is lost.

    • Gary Runn
      Gary Runn says:

      I am sorry you took offense to the wording in my post. I am actually simply stating what Knox said about himself in his writings. In his quest for God he became a priest by vocation before he actually made a personal profession of faith in Christ. I think that could be just as true for any person of any Christian denomination. Simply being a priest or a pastor does not make one a Christian. But to another point, I would challenge you that you can still learn about leadership from anyone, whether you agree, disagree or are offended. The message doesn’t have to be “lost.” That is your choice. I can choose to learn from a variety of voices and though a variety of lenses without the message being lost.


Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *