Harry Pickup, Jr

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by Shane Scott

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 faithful. 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. For 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)

For my article this month I would like to pay tribute to a man of God. Just a few hours ago, Harry W. Pickup, Jr, passed from this life. I can’t think of anything better to do with this space than to give honor to whom honor is due.

Harry Pickup, Jr.
Harry Pickup, Jr.

I first met brother Pickup like many of you did. He came to my home when I was in high school to visit with me and my family and to encourage me to attend Florida College. I was already sold, but my mom and grandparents needed a little persuasion. That was not a problem for brother Pickup! He could establish rapport with anyone, and possessed the unique ability to speak frankly and kindly all at once. By the time he was finished, the whole family was on board. And I am so glad. Through Florida College I met my wife. And through Florida College I made lifelong friends, and I came under the influence of many other godly men like brother Pickup, not the least of which was his son, Marty.

Some of you who did not attend FC got to know brother Pickup through a special study he arranged for many years that he called “Pickup University.” Each summer he would pay for several younger preachers to come and hear a panel of teachers speak for a few days, delving into a wide array of biblical topics. Though the subjects were frequently controversial, brother Pickup created an environment in which issues could be discussed openly, with cheerful fervor. His commitment to truth and to service converged beautifully in Pickup University. And his great sense of humor was reflected in the initials of this “school,” PU!

Brother Pickup was the most un-sectarian (if that’s a word!) preacher I think I have ever known. He had a clear vision of what it is to be just a Christian, and he was almost allergic to any denominationalizing of the concept of the church. If you’ve read Focus since its online inception, you saw that same dogged commitment to pure allegiance to Christ in Marty’s writing, and that legacy is continuing here in Focus with the contributions of his grandson, Nathan.

The text I included at the start of the article is from one of the last sermons I heard brother Pickup preach. It is an expression of Paul’s singular determination to please Christ rather than any man, especially the Corinthians. It came to mind again as I thought about brother Pickup’s passing. He would have been the first person to say, as Paul did, that the glowing commendations of mere man don’t prove anything, that all that ultimately matters in the end is what the Lord thinks. So I have no desire to “pronounce judgment before the time,” and I am comforted to commend this dear brother to the Lord whose approval he eagerly sought.

There is indeed a day coming when the Lord “will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness.” But until that day comes, I just want to thank the Lord here in this forum for the blessing brother Harry Pickup, Jr. was to me, and to so many other followers of Jesus. Brother Pickup entitled the eulogy he wrote for his father with this description Paul gave of Titus, “partner and fellow worker for your benefit” (2 Corinthians 8:23). Brother Pickup, you benefited many of us, and may you rest well in the peace of Christ.