If we’re going to expect Christ-like character and integrity in staff, and that they align with the basics of life in Him, then we need to encourage them to grow in grace.
But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen. (2 Pet. 3:18)
To understand the real significance of this verse, we need to consider why it begins with the word “but” by looking at the entire chapter.
Understanding the Need to Grow in Grace
In the first ten verses Peter encouraged believers to think right about the end times and not be influenced by scoffers. He wanted them to remember the words spoken by the prophets long ago about how “the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly” (2 Pet. 3:7).
In light of this he exhorted them, “You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God.” (2 Pet. 3:11-12)
He reminded them of how God will then usher in the new heavens and earth (2 Pet. 3:13).
This led to a similar conclusion. — “… since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him.” (2 Pet. 3:14)
Peter forewarned them so they could be on guard and remain steadfast rather than get carried away by the error of those who would distort these truths (2 Pet. 3:15-17). That would lead to lawlessness rather than “holy and godly lives” (2 Pet. 3:11). The solution comes in verse 18. “But” … in contrast, rather than losing their way, they should “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”
Hence, to expect Christ-like character and integrity, we need to encourage church staff to grow in grace. It’s too easy to get distracted, be swayed by faulty thinking, or go off track. Remember, it is grace that “teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope …” (Titus 2:12-13).
How to Encourage Church Staff Toward Growth
As Peter did in this chapter, so we must warn church staff about potential issues that could derail them. And then, we must encourage them to rely on God’s grace to remain steadfast and true.
Grace is about God doing for us what we can’t do for ourselves. Hence, we’re encouraging them toward dependence on God to work in and through them and away from self-reliance. That is why 2 Peter 3:18 can end, “To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.”
- Extend affirmation and appreciation, but keep the focus on God and what He is doing.
- Encourage them, by example and words, to always defer to God as their first and primary Source of help in all they do.
- Emphasize the need to pray at every turn.
Getting to the point in our lives where it’s all about Him and what He does in and through us (grace) will not happen unless we also grow in our walk with the Lord. Note this combined growth trajectory in 2 Peter 3:18. — “grow in grace AND knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”
- Be just as concerned with providing spiritual nurture as with ministry skills training for staff.
- Be available to pray with them about the whole of their lives, not just their ministry efforts.
- Be an example of someone who is constantly learning and growing, being able to humbly admit what the Apostle Paul said in Philippians 3:12. — Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.