Good and Faithful Servant

I was in the 6th grade when my daddy summoned me out of Sunday School class one Sunday. I thought I was in trouble! Waiting out in the hallway was Bro. Dewitt Pickering, the minister of music at my church, and he said he needed a favor. The main pianist had called in sick and he needed me to play the piano that morning in church. Then I knew I was in trouble! But my daddy and Bro. Pickering assured me that I could do it and accompanied me to the choir room while I looked over the hymns for the day. Fortunately these were hymns I already knew so I felt more confident. I was eleven years old at the time.

Not long after that Bro. Pickering pulled me and two other girls aside to ask us if we’d be willing to sing a trio – 3-part harmony. We were afraid we couldn’t do it. But Bro. Pickering rehearsed us on a hymn—listening to our voices to see who would be best to sing what part. There was a definite soprano voice and a definite alto voice, and that left me to sing some kind of second soprano part. He started us out on a hymn “My Jesus I Love Thee” and had me sing the tenor part up an octave. We sang on a Sunday night, scared to death, but a lot more confident. Soon he gave us harder music with real 3-part harmony and I had to pick out the middle part. He was so patient and helped all three of us listen and blend and sing well together. We sang in this trio until we all went away to college. And I was the church pianist most of my high school years.

Years later I married a minister of music and in his first church there were three 6th grade girls who could sing really well together. I taught them “My Jesus I Love Thee” in 3-part harmony and later progressed to more difficult music. Even after we left that church those three girls continued to sing together for several years. Sometime after that I received a letter from one of the little girls who was all grown up and she said how much those days of learning to sing had meant to her. She was now leading children’s music in her own church. That made me feel good, of course, but also compelled me to find the source of all of this inspiration—Dewitt Pickering. I located him in Mississippi and wrote him a letter telling him how much I appreciated his ministry to me. I also included the fact that I had passed along his ministry to others. I mentioned that I was writing and producing music for the church and that his relatively brief ministry to me at a crucial age was a large part of why I was involved in writing music. He wrote me back and said, “I’ve been using your music for years with my choirs but since your name has changed I never realized you and that little 6th grade girl were the same person.” I truly believe that if Bro. Pickering hadn’t asked me to serve in a significant musical position when I was 11 years old I never would have progressed into being a music leader in churches throughout the years—nor would I have been involved in writing and producing music for churches for the last 30 years.

Dewitt Pickering died at the age of 88 this past Sunday and I was privileged to speak and sing at his funeral. It was an honor.

I’m sure that Dewitt Pickering thought throughout the years that his ministry wasn’t significant, but I am here to testify that I am but one person whose life has been changed by his servant spirit. I can’t wait to see him in heaven one day and sing this song—the song he taught me to sing a second soprano part as a 6th grade girl. Or maybe in heaven I’ll be able to sing all of the parts at the same time!


My Jesus, I love Thee, I know Thou art mine;
For Thee all the follies of sin I resign;
My gracious Redeemer, my Savior art Thou;
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

I love Thee because Thou hast first loved me,
And purchased my pardon on Calvary’s tree;
I love Thee for wearing the thorns on Thy brow;
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

In mansions of glory and endless delight,
I’ll ever adore Thee in heaven so bright;
I’ll sing with the glittering crown on my brow,
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

5 thoughts on “Good and Faithful Servant

  1. Kaye Miller Cain

    Hi Nan,
    I read your blogs often. Thank you for sharing about Bro. Pickering. I remember him well and played the piano for him often. I, too, remember being asked to play on Sunday nights when I was a young adolescent girl. You are so right that early serving in church sets the course for a lifetime of service. When Devco Baptist Church was a mission of First Baptist, I was transported each Sunday morning after Sunday School (by a deacon) to the little pink house that served as church to play the piano for the service. I think of that little pink house (no longer standing) every time I go to Geneva and pass Devco Baptist Church. I still play some; however, I do enjoy singing in the choir. We, too, have sung many of your songs. Thank you and Dennis for your ministry.

  2. Jana Fleming

    Bro. Pickering had an impact on Patsy’s life, too. She loved him and he gave her a painting he painted and she still has it.

  3. Judi

    I have learned to love and listen to music with all my being because of what you and Dennis have meant to me. You both are such a blessing to me!

    Love, Judi

  4. Jerry Rankin

    So happy that you had the experience in sharing in the service of a special ministry that affected your life so much. We rejoice with you in how God has used and is still using your talents to affect the lives of so many others. Thank you for sharing your gift of writing with us as well. Lifting you up.

  5. Carolyn McCormick

    The blog about the good and faithful servant that influenced your life brought back memories of my childhood, growing up in a musical family who sang “parts” together “by ear” and played instruments. I have been encouraged by my home town church M.O.M., college choir director, Southwestern Seminary Singers’ director and many other great musicians. Dennis will always be one my family appreciates and we continue to sing music by Dennis and Nan, even doing so this Palm Sunday.

    Blessing on both of you. As you have been encouraged by others you continue to do the same.

    We must all keep encouraging others. Some we have encouraged through music and youth work are now ministers of the Gospel bring others to the Master. Proverbs 3:5, 6


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