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The “fifth Beatle’s” legacy

Ryan Denison is the Senior Fellow for Theology at Denison Forum, where he contributes writing and research to many of the ministry’s productions.

He is in the final stages of earning his PhD in church history at BH Carroll Theological Institute after having earned his MDiv at Truett Seminary. Ryan has also taught at BH Carroll and Dallas Baptist University.

He and his wife, Candice, live in East Texas and have two children.

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Sir George Martin, Abbey Road Studios, London - Nov 2006 Various (Rex Features via AP Images)

Sir George Martin died “peacefully at home” in England on Tuesday, eliciting a somber yet appreciative remembrance from the artists and fans that knew his work best. Paul McCartney said of Martin, “If anyone earned the title of the fifth Beatle it was George. From the day he gave the Beatles our first recording contract, to the last time I saw him, he was the most generous, intelligent, and musical person I’ve ever had the pleasure to know.”

While such eulogies are often cause for embellishment, McCartney’s views on Martin’s importance to the Beatles and other artists as both a producer and as a friend do not seem overstated. The fact that Martin even had a history with the Beatles is testament to that fact. As the late producer told JazzWax.com, “When I first met the Beatles in 1962, I didn’t think much of their songs at all.” Even after agreeing to work with them, in part as a favor to Brian Epstein, the band’s manager and Martin’s friend, he found that, while the group was open to guidance, they were determined to have final say in the direction of their music.

As CNN’s Todd Leopold points out, “Another producer may have put his foot down, but Martin decided to trust the band’s judgment.” They would go on to produce a number of original songs that topped the charts starting with “Please Please Me.” That willingness to collaborate instead of dictate set Martin apart from many of his peers and was one of the primary reasons he was able to find success with a number of diverse artists, culminating in twenty-three number one songs in the U.S. and thirty in the UK over the course of his career.

Whether your calling lies in music, business, or any other occupation, Martin’s example offers important guidance for how we can most profitably relate to other people. His ability to instill a sense of belief in the artists with whom he worked by empowering them to make decisions and validating their value as musicians demonstrated a remarkable level of self-awareness and self-confidence in that he didn’t feel the need to constantly exercise his authority over others.

In 1 Peter 5, we find a similar principle in Peter’s instructions on how to properly lead others in God’s flock: “Shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock” (1 Peter 5:2–3). While he was speaking primarily to the elders in the early church, the basic principle of treating others as valuable individuals worthy of respect and love rather than as a burden to overcome applies to all believers.

We see that perspective in Martin’s approach to the artists with whom he worked, and it can have the same benefit in our everyday interactions with other people as well. In general, all people have an innate need to be respected and valued because, even in our fallen state, we remember that that’s how our creator sees us. When we treat others in that fashion, we help remind them of how God values them and can perhaps reignite in them the longing for his love. We should not take this awesome responsibility lightly, as our every interaction has the potential to either push people farther away from God or draw them closer to their Lord and savior.

So how will you treat people today? Will they be a burden to overcome or an opportunity to pass on the love and respect that God has shown to you? How you answer that question could have consequences that extend into eternity. Choose wisely.

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