Humble Service in Jesus’ Name—Part 1

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Humble Service in Jesus’ Name: The Role of a Second—Part 1

Story by Claire Wren Engeron and Trinity Grau
Photos courtesy of Calvary Chapel Golden Springs, CA, and Calvary Chapel Magazine

The role of an assistant pastor is crucial to the health of a church, though often not perceived as “glamorous” enough. L.E. Romaine served as the “Second” to Chuck Smith, the founder of the Calvary Chapel movement and first pastor of Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa, CA. “Romaine,” as he was known, knew that serving as a Second is a calling that not many desire. At the request of many, he penned a book called Second: Humbly Assisting Those in Leadership, in which he emphasizes the importance of having a humble heart and the willingness to go above and beyond what is asked.

Following is a recent interview between Raul Ries, senior pastor of Calvary Chapel Golden Springs, CA, and his Second, Pastor Dale Goddard. Both mentored by Romaine, they discuss the pivotal role he played in their lives and share many memories of him. Look for Part 2 which will run soon on this website.

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From earlier days are Raul Ries (left), senior pastor of Calvary Chapel Golden Springs, CA, and his Assistant Pastor Dale Goddard (right). Standing between them is their friend L.E. Romaine, known by all as “Romaine,” who served as assistant pastor to Chuck Smith at CC Costa Mesa for many years.

                  

Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock; and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away. 1 Peter 5:2-4

                  

[Raul Ries] Welcome to Straight Talk. This morning, Dale and I are going to share with you something very special—the legacy of a great man that we have known in the ministry, L.E. Romaine. He was Pastor Chuck Smith’s assistant pastor. He spent a long time just being with us, and we with him. He taught us a lot of things that are still used in the ministry today.

It is a pleasure to be here with Pastor Dale as we share together about a person who became such a hero to us [in his example] as an assistant pastor. I will be sharing about Romaine, while Dale will tell us about Romaine’s philosophy in ministry and what he has learned from him personally.

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Pastor Raul (left), Romaine, and Raul’s wife Sharon enjoy an event. Romaine was known for his humble loyalty to Pastor Chuck and for his straightforward, straight-speaking manner. He mentored many, including Raul and Dale Goddard. “He meant what he said, and he said what he meant,” Dale declared.

                  

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First Encounters with “the Second”

[Raul] The first experience I had with Romaine was when I went to the Big Tent at Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa. He got up and rebuked everybody—all the hippies. He was a Marine! The reason he rebuked them was because these young hippies were eating and drinking in the tent. So Romaine got up and told them all, “Hey, if you are going to eat and drink, get the heck out of the tent, and go eat and drink somewhere else!” That was an amazing experience for me Dale! What was your first-time experience?

[Dale Goddard] The first time I met Romaine was because you [Raul] sent me to Costa Mesa to meet him. I did not know much about him except his reputation. Usually, we did not address him as Pastor Romaine—it was just Romaine.

[Raul] Romaine, yes!

[Dale] That one name, “Romaine,” could strike fear in your heart just based on the things you had heard that he had said and done to other people. He was straightforward, and he did not have any filter. He meant what he said, and he said what he meant. You had to know him to understand him. If people went to see him and just based their relationship with him on their first meeting, then they probably wouldn’t like him because he was there to tell you what needed to be said. Not everyone wanted to hear what needed to be said. Most people wanted words that are sugar coated; they want to be made to feel good first. He was not like that!

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Romaine (center) was well-loved, as this vintage photo shows. Raul shared, “He became a part of our family. I felt he was like my father, because he was teaching me how to be a pastor.” Dale added, “I respected him more as a mentor and a teacher to me than anyone else in ministry.”

If Romaine thought you were a big baby, he would tell you to change your diaper! If he thought you were a big mouth, he would call you a big mouth. If he thought you were a bully, he would say you were a bully.

[Raul] Yes! Yes!

[Dale] He was one of those rare people who you loved and sometimes you hated, but you always respected. I respected him more as a mentor and a teacher to me than anyone else in ministry. 

[Raul] No regrets, right?

[Dale] No! No regrets. I am so grateful for Pastor Raul sending me to Costa Mesa [to meet with Romaine]. We went often, at least once a month, to take him to lunch.

[Raul] I remember when we would go to lunch with Romaine, he would instruct us. He became a part of our family. I felt he was like my father, because he was teaching me how to be a pastor. He was teaching you, Dale, how to be an assistant pastor—because he had been around Chuck, who had taught him a lot—among other things.

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Romaine (left) talks with Calvary Chapel Pastor Greg Laurie at a Costa Mesa event. Romaine wrote a book about being an effective assistant pastor, entitled Second: Humbly Assisting Those in Leadership. It’s still popular today. In the book he wrote, “An assistant is one who backs up, undergirds and supports another. He is the one who follows after another, …, a Second—Number Two ...”

[Dale] I will never forget the first time I met Romaine. I went into the front office and told the man, “I am here to meet Romaine.” He replied, “He is waiting for you outside.” I went outside, and I thought to myself, Will we be going to his office [the typical place] to sit down or will we sit under this beautiful olive tree and talk? I wondered, Are you going to minister to me, Romaine?

Romaine looked at me, and then looked the other way, and he just said, “Come on, follow me.” In those two words, “Follow me,” I learned so much about him. Romaine did not have an office; his office was the grounds of Costa Mesa, the entire campus—20 acres! He did not say very much to me. He just said, “Watch and listen, and you can ask questions later.” And as we went throughout the entire campus, which took a while, I heard him rebuke some people and joke around with others, but he was always moving in one direction—the heart of a Second.

I want to read you quotes that I often share with others about Romaine. He gave some of the best quotes ever. He told me:

An assistant pastor wasn’t someone who wore a badge; he was not someone with a title; he was not someone who tried to climb a ladder to be a [senior] pastor.

Romaine made it simple, saying,

An assistant is one who backs up, undergirds and supports another. He is the one who follows after another, called an associate, a Second—Number Two ...

And then he ended it with this—he looked at me, and I was listening to him intently now, Raul:

Above all you are a slave, and you know you are a slave when you are treated like one.

[Raul] Something that really spoke to my heart, too, was that when you first met Romaine, he was not there to impress you—he was there to slap you!

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Romaine talks with a young woman at a CC Costa Mesa baptismal service at the beach in California. Dale noted that Romaine hated ego, quoting him from his book: ‘“God isn’t interested in promoting the egos of individuals. God is only interested in furthering His Kingdom and prospering His people.”’

[Dale] Yeah, he hated ego! Let me give you another quote from Romaine:

God isn’t interested in promoting the egos of individuals. God is only interested in furthering His Kingdom and prospering His people.

That is a direct quote from Romaine and can be found in his book called Second. If there are any young, potential leaders in the church listening—male or female, it doesn’t matter—read Second. It will humble you, and it will give you the knowledge that you need to succeed at being a good Second. Too many guys these days enter the ministry thinking, I want to be the guy at the pulpit, and that is not what I am talking about.

[Raul] God didn’t call them to be a senior pastor.

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Dale teaches at a pastor’s conference. Now 73 years old, he has served as Raul’s “Second” for more than 35 years. “There is no greater feeling … than to know your calling. ... That way you are not wondering, looking, hoping, wishing, or thinking, Oh boy, if only I had the opportunity to do that! You’ve got to get wrapped around what God has called you to do,” he said.

 

[Dale] There is no greater feeling, and I am speaking from experience now, as I am 73 years old and have been in ministry with Raul for over 35 years as his assistant pastor, than to know your calling––knowing what you are called to do. That way you are not wondering, looking, hoping, wishing, or thinking, Oh boy, if only I had the opportunity to do that! You’ve got to get wrapped around what God has called you to do. If you do not know what God has called you to do, read Second.

[Raul] Read it and reread it!

[Dale] Romaine will give to you the business of the assistant pastor. He said it clearly, opening his book this way: 

The business of the assistant pastor is to complete the tasks the senior pastor cannot do.

 

A Leader and His Associates

[Dale] There is only one senior pastor. Some churches have a senior pastor, an assistant pastor, a teaching pastor, and senior associate pastor; they have all these lists, but there are too many leaders. There is only one Moses. In Exodus 18, Moses distributed the duties to those who were his associates. And to one [person], he may lead 1,000, to another 100, to another 50, to another 10. Keep that in mind. Every department needs a leader. If you are an associate, you need to make yourself available to be a leader—not over the church, but a leader of those whom God and your senior pastor have placed you over.

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Although they work hard in ministry, Dale (left) and Raul enjoy relaxing moments. Dale shared some of what he learned from Romaine: “If you are an associate, you need to make yourself available to be a leader—not over the church, but a leader of those whom God and your senior pastor have placed you over.”

[Raul] Dale, that is what you have been doing here at Calvary Chapel Golden Springs. We have known each other for 60 years, and the Lord has brought you to be my assistant pastor, from even before you had backslidden for about 13 years. It is incredible, because I have always felt that you were my assistant pastor.

I learned so much from Romaine—to be true to your assistant and to be true to those who serve with you. That is why, here at Calvary Chapel, we train and keep training and retraining people. I remember going to Romaine’s Bible studies on Thursday mornings, and you, Dale, also have studies on Thursday mornings today. Romaine would teach the Bible and give the Word of God. Yet at the same time, he would exhort the people; a lot of them did not like that, but those who went there learned.

 

Respect and Honor

[Raul] Romaine and Chuck were one. He respected Chuck, he loved him, and he would honor what he would say as an assistant pastor. He never tried to be the pastor of the church; but even if Chuck was wrong, he would still honor and respect him. I think this is something you can share with people.

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Chuck (left) and Romaine. “Romaine and Chuck were one. He respected Chuck, he loved him, and he would honor what he would say as [his] assistant pastor,” Raul stated.

[Dale] That’s the key! You can’t serve a pastor the way God wants you to serve him unless you love him the way God wants you to love him––and that is unconditionally. Do you understand your calling? I am sharing this with those who talk badly about their pastor and about his leadership. Hey, what are you doing there? You are hurting the body of Christ––you are a divider––if all you do is complain. The attitude that Romaine had was “I do not care if Chuck is right or wrong, God called me to hold up his arms.”

[Raul] Yes, that is important.

[Dale] If you were ever around Romaine, you knew at the end of the day that he was going to hold up the arms of Chuck whether he agreed with him or not. Do you know why? Because he loved him, he loved him with all of his heart. And if you do not love your pastor with all of your heart, how can you serve him? Romaine told me one time, “In order for me to follow someone, he needed to love him and respect him; and if he didn’t know him, how could he love him and respect him?”

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Romaine stands in support of Pastor Chuck during a baptism. Dale emphasized, “If you were ever around Romaine, you knew at the end of the day that he was going to hold up the arms of Chuck whether he agreed with him or not.”

[Raul] Romaine was a Marine––he learned respect. When you become a Marine, and you know, Dale, because you were in the military too, what it is like to respect. When you come into the ministry, you learn respect just like when you are in boot camp. Then, when you have learned everything in boot camp, you become a PFC, a lance corporal, corporal sergeant, a staff sergeant, and you move up the ladder. But in Christ, you do not move up the ladder, you are at the bottom––not only respecting people but serving the Lord.

[Dale] I wanted to share some of the characteristics that Romaine pointed out to us.

[Raul] Awesome!

[Dale] One thing you said, Raul, was “What we are as leaders should be what God wants us to be––not what we want to be.” I wrote this down: ... for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure (Philippians 2:13). That being said, you have got to be able to know who you are. Now, Romaine told me, “Keep your eyes open, Dale.” When he wrote Second—and I know pride is a bad thing—he sent it to me before it was published. He sent me a manila folder with a rough draft. He sent it to me and a few other pastors that I know had spent time in ministry already and knew Romaine well. On the manila envelope, it said, Dale, I want you to read this, and I want you to add or take away whatever you want.

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Dale (left) and Raul serve together outside the church walls. Romaine wrote in Second: “The one who is a leader is the one who will do it because it needs to be done—not because you have to tell them to do it. The one who is a leader is a self-starter. He doesn’t need to be told or directed what to do.”

I hardly touched it; I thought it was perfect. My eyes were glued to it! I think I was one of the first people to read Second from cover to cover because I read it before it was ever published. If you are a senior pastor, use what Romaine has said in his book as your guide. He wrote:

“Who is the assistant pastor?” He is the one who takes the initiative. He knows what to do. He has no excuses like “I didn’t know, nobody told me, it wasn’t my job.” And the excuses go on and on. The one who is a leader is the one who will do it because it needs to be done––not because you have to tell them to do it. The one who is a leader is a self-starter. He doesn’t need to be told or directed what to do. He sees trash and picks it up. He notices ladies carrying packages and goes out to help. If the bathroom is dirty, he cleans it. He always has his eyes open and looks for the opportunities to help.

Go into the bathroom during the Sunday morning or Wednesday evening service––or any time of the day!

[Raul] Or after the services.

[Dale] [You do it] whether you are on or off the clock. When you step out of your car, is there trash in the parking lot? Do you feel the conviction to pick it up? That’s the Lord’s property! Or are you doing it only because someone is watching you? Romaine would say,

The assistant that you want does not need applause for what he does, no pat on the back, no “Atta boy’s”! No strokes from man. Those are the things the world uses to get something done.

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Romaine in younger years. He lived what he wrote: “ [The Second] doesn’t look at the clock, he arrives before the senior pastor, he leaves after the senior pastor––not the ‘nine-to-five’-type person.”

I have learned that from Romaine. I have told people who come here to work, especially some of the young guys, that if what you are looking for here is a pat on the back for a job well done, then go apply at Target—they use those methods to get you to do more work. You are not working for me—Dale; you’re working for the Lord here at the chapel and your reward is in heaven. It’s not that I don’t appreciate what you do. When you do a great job, you will probably hear it from a lot of people, but that is not why you are here. Sometimes that can ruin a good man, because now he expects pats on the back. Our work needs to be unconditional. The next thing Romaine said:

He [the Second], doesn’t look at the clock, he arrives before the senior pastor, he leaves after the senior pastor––not the ‘nine-to-five’-type person.

We are here 24/7. Raul has always taught this, and I have taught the guys that ministry doesn’t begin when you walk through the door at Calvary Chapel Golden Springs. Ministry never leaves you. Ministry is your life––from the time you wake up until the time you go to bed.

                  

Look for Part 2 of this interview in Calvary Chapel Magazine online coming soon. 

                  

(To learn more about U-Turn for Christ, visit their website)

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All verses above are quoted from the New King James Version, unless otherwise noted.

© 2022 Calvary Chapel Magazine (CCM). All rights reserved. Articles or photographs may not be reproduced without the written permission of CCM. All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.® Used by permission.