Thursday, January 29, 2009

Poor Pete Best

Poor, poor, Pete Best. He was a Beatle, until that Ringo guy took over. I can picture Best having a fevered dream of his Beatle tenure many nights, then waking up and, in the fashion of famous celluloid screams "Stella!" and "Khan!!!", sitting up in a cold sweat and saying, "Ringo!!!!"

Hey, I feel for the guy. I had my own Pete Best moment, when a couple of guys who I was in a band with formed another band after we'd broken up. A friend called me about a year later, and told me that they were signed to a label. They're a great group of guys, and don't begrudge them any of the success they had, but I was a little disappointed. After all, that's what I wanted to do since I was a little kid. So, I'm feelin' ya, Pete.

Dig this: people were mad when Pete was ousted. They made signs and hoisted them in protest. When I'd heard this story for the first time, I felt bad for the guy, to be sure, who eventually worked as a civil servant after his being replaced. Then, after years of thinking that Pete was somehow wronged, I, along with other Beatles' fans, got to hear Pete's playing on the few recordings he'd made with the Beatles when they were released. I suddenly understood. Although a solid drummer, he had none of the versatility that Ringo had, nor the power. The first version of "Love Me Do" tells the whole story: problems with transitions and tempo forced the hand of producer George Martin to hire a studio drummer, prompting the Beatles (at the same time) to make the switch. Their next studio date (where both Ringo and the studio drummer were in attendance) was awkward, with Ringo relegated to a tambourine, Martin still unsure of the new drummer.

But still: poor, poor Pete, right? I'm not so sure. Yeah, that stinks to miss out on all that the Beatles became. But, would they have had that success if they had retained the barely competent Best? Believe me when I say that, in a band, you want everyone firing on all cylinders, and if something doesn't work, you've got to change it. Paul, John and George made a hard decision, but ultimately the right one.

So what, you say? So this, I say:

"From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it." - Matthew 11:12

I really struggled with this passage when I first read it, a very long time ago. Aren't we supposed to be meek, I thought? Surely being forceful is not the example of Jesus, I mused. My new Christian brain had yet to comprehend the full ministry of Jesus, where He was indeed forceful, stubborn and unwavering. There was no compromise to be found in Him, and yet there was great grace. Both have a tremendous force to them. I've long since made my peace with it, mostly because in ministry, you understand what Jesus is saying here. Those without a spine need not apply. Those without intestinal fortitude should sit on the bench.

Yes, Jesus is talking about a specific time, that period from John preaching to Jesus' own ministry. But, the lesson here is for everyone for all time: You must do what advances the kingdom, what brings people in a relationship with the one, true, living God. I've heard several people in churches complain about their volunteers' not showing up, not doing a good job, or wandering in and out of their ministry. They usually end their complaint by saying that "you can't fire volunteers", and I reply, "why not?" Paid or not, people should work as though working for the Lord, and a leader must make the right decision about workers so that whatever ministry he or she is leading does not suffer at the hands of sloppy, uncommitted work. Enter Pete Best, stage left, kiddies. He couldn't play at the level of the other Mop Tops. He, unfortunately, had to go. And, someone had to decide it and let him go.

As for my story, it was all fine. I ended up not being in a moderately successful band, which was absolutely appropriate: I didn't want to play their style of music, and they didn't want to play mine. No harm, no foul here. It was the right thing to happen. In our culture, the Pete Best story might seem a little cold and callous, but that's become some of the problem with our culture: no honest assessment of what's best (no pun intended), no making right decisions in the face of opposition, i.e., a lack of guts. Thank God that there are still "forceful men" (and, I assume, women) taking hold of the Kingdom under God's direction, making the tough choices, yet not lording their power over others. Most likely, we'll not know all their work until we're all in heaven drinking Yoohoo and swapping stories.

1 comment:

Scott Baker said...

Lloyd- Very insightful and timely post.