Calvin took his task as a preacher seriously. He saw the preacher as God’s ambassador to the church. Calvin thought that when he spoke as a preacher, it was God himself who spoke. This also meant that Calvin would have to account for every word he uttered. It was for this reason that Calvin could not ascend the pulpit without careful consideration, because he thought of it as ‘the throne of God, and from that throne he wants to govern our souls.’ The presence of the pulpit meant that at church the congregation would come face to face with God’s judgment seat, where guilt must be confessed and where forgiveness would be obtained. For the preacher it meant speaking only after first listening respectfully to his Taskmaster. This was true not only for Calvin but also for every other preacher. If a pastor did not first become a student of the Word, ‘it would be better if he were to break his neck while climbing into the pulpit.’ ‘For God there is nothing higher than the preaching of the gospel . . . because it is the means to lead people to salvation.’ Calvin had enough self-knowledge to realize that he himself had to be subject to the Word as well. ‘When I climb into the pulpit, it is not simply to instruct others. I do not exclude myself, since I myself must remain a student as well, and the words that come from my mouth are to serve me as much as others. If not, woe to me!’
Herman J. Selderhuis, John Calvin: A Pilgrim’s Life, 110f.