26 Jan 2023
Name: Scott A. Pickering
Hometown: Berlin, New Jersey
Position: Chief Operating Officer
What do you do at Harvest USA?
I oversee Harvest USA’s daily operations, including all of our programs, administrative functions, and our finances and accounting. I also serve as a member of our development team, where I help coordinate our efforts to cultivate new and existing ministry partners.
How did you get to Harvest USA?
I love to tell this story as it points so clearly to God’s sweet, covenantal care and leading of his people. My history with Harvest USA actually began a year or two before I joined the staff. I was working at a local bank while attending seminary. At the bank, I met a Christian businessman who provided accounting services to a number of local Christian nonprofits. We developed a relationship, and I mentioned that I would love to use my accounting skills to help support a Christian nonprofit, specifically one that shared my theological convictions. The conversation didn’t go any further and I didn’t give it any more thought.
Fast forward a year or two: I’m now working as a consultant for a local insurance company. It was a good-paying, flexible job that allowed me to continue my seminary studies. At this point, I felt God leading me to do missions work in Bosnia. This was scary, though, because it meant leaving my job. How would I afford seminary? Would I find a job that would accommodate my school schedule? I was bombarded by these and many other questions, but Christ stood by me, strengthening my faith and giving me courage. I went ahead and gave official notice that I was leaving.
Within a week, I received a phone call from the Christian businessman I met at the bank. He told me of a job opening at Harvest USA, a nonprofit that shared my theological convictions. I was delighted but explained it wouldn’t work as I was leaving shortly to spend the summer in Bosnia. He asked when I was going to return. When I answered, he said, “That’s perfect. That’s right when the position is opening up.” He proceeded to coordinate an interview for me with Harvest USA and, in God’s kindness, I was hired before I even left for Bosnia!
What is your favorite Scripture passage or book of the Bible?
This is like asking if I have a favorite child. I love all of God’s Word—it’s difficult to point to a favorite. That said, I’ve found myself coming back again and again to 2 Corinthians.
First, 2 Corinthians 1:8–11 is the text of the first sermon I ever preached in a church. In it, the apostle Paul learns “spirituality 101,” and in so doing, he reveals God’s way—his “curriculum.” The trials and testings I face are part of the means God is using to wean me from my self-reliance and teach me the joy and power of looking away from self and trusting in him. If Paul needed it, how much more do I!
Second, I’ve found great instruction and encouragement meditating on Paul’s description of Christian ministry as “always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you” (2 Cor. 4:10–12). We make the life of Jesus “real” to those around us as we die to ourselves in order that others might experience life in Christ.
What is your favorite thing about living in Philadelphia?
There are many things to like, but my favorite is probably Wissahickon Valley Park (a.k.a. “the Wiss”). The park boasts over 1,800 acres and 50+ miles of trails. It’s the Central Park of Philadelphia. I love to go there for a good jog or a leisurely walk.
Can you tell us an interesting fact about yourself?
I spent a summer teaching English in Bosnia and have been to Ukraine and Uganda on short-term missions trips.
01 Oct 2020
Take a moment and ask yourself this question: Do you remember a time when your desire for God was stronger than it is today? Maybe it was right after you first came to Christ. Or a difficult season in your life forced you to depend upon him in new ways. Your desire for fellowship with Christ was strong. The Word of God refreshed and strengthened you. Gratitude and praise were a normal part of your prayer life.
What happened? What changed?
Our appetite for God will be dulled from overtly sinful things, but oftentimes our appetite for God is dulled by many other, seemingly harmless things to which we give our time and attention. These could be people, activities, or circumstances that, on the surface, appear benign, but they crowd out our desire for God and subtly replace it with other things. In fact, many of these are actually gifts given to us by our kind and loving God. For example, it may be family, a favorite sport, a hobby, a certain form of entertainment, an educational pursuit, your job, or a relationship you are in. Though not overtly sinful, they still have the capacity to dull our appetite for God—and frequently do! Ironically, when we worship the gifts rather than the Giver, those very gifts draw us away from God.
I have seen this is in my own life again and again, and I have frequently seen it in the lives of the men and women to whom we minister here at Harvest USA. These men and women normally come to us because they have a particular sin that they want to “put off.” In many ways, they know exactly what they want: “I need to get rid of ______ sin in my life. It’s really hurting me. My problem is this one area of my life. If I could just get it under control, I would be alright.” As we explore together how the gospel changes us, our hope is that these men and women begin to see that the problem is actually worse than they think—and that the solution is actually better than they imagined.
The problem is worse because it reaches beyond behavior to the heart. Sin has corrupted our desires and twisted our thinking. It is not simply that we desire sin but also that we do not desire God. The solution is better, though, because, through our union with Christ, we are not simply given grace to resist corrupt desires and twisted thinking. Rather, we are given new desires and renewed minds. In Christ, we are given a new capacity to delight in that which is truly delightful—namely, God himself.
If you are in Christ, you have been given new desires. These desires are to know, please, and worship God, to praise him, to meditate on his Word, to talk with him in prayer, to fellowship with his people, to grow in holiness, and more. But these new desires must be deliberately cultivated and protected if they are to grow and not wither. When they are not cultivated and protected, we will find our desire for sin growing. Our battle to kill sin will be ineffective unless our desires are being changed and our appetite for God is growing.
How do we know if our appetite for God is being dulled?
Are there warning signs that this may be happening in your life? Consider these three indicators.
- What was once both a duty and a delight to you is now simply a duty. Instead of thinking about worship, Scripture reading, prayer, and the things of God as things you get to do, you now think of them mainly in terms of things that you have to do.
- When you think of spiritual activities, you find yourself saying, “I just don’t have enough time.” It is harder and harder to make time to do those things you once did in order to know and love God.
- Your prayer life has withered, and, when you do pray, your prayers consist mainly of requests. Also, your prayers are short on adoration, praise, and thanksgiving.
What is dulling your appetite for God?
Even if we recognize that our appetites are being dulled, it can be difficult to identify exactly what is dulling it. In this case, prayer and other people can be of great help. In prayer, we have access to our heavenly Father who has promised to hear and answer our prayers when we ask according to his will. Let us ask boldly then!
Also, consider asking others who know you well, “What do you think may be dulling my appetite for God?” Our pride will resist posing this question to them, but God has promised us grace if we humble ourselves. Expect his grace and think of a few people you can ask. And then actually ask them!
As we pray and invite the observations of others, we can begin to identify what’s dulling our appetite for God. We can then ask God for his help to repent and cultivate the new desires he has given to us.