At my job, we have a new interim dean, except he’s not new. He’s been at the school for years. In fact, this is his third stint as dean. And because it is my role to support the dean, he and I have had many conversations about what we would like to do in our department. A concept that keeps coming up over and over again in our conversations is the idea of institutional knowledge. My new temporary boss admonishes me to ask him questions because he’s been at the school through many of its major transitions, so I can glean from his institutional knowledge.
Institutional knowledge is not a new concept, and it’s not unique to a seminary, college or university. Any organization, corporation, church, school, club, family has institutional knowledge. In a corporation, it’s the employee who has worked there for more than ten years. In a school, it’s the teacher who has seen several generations of children fill the halls. In church, it’s the deacons and mothers of the congregation. In your family, it’s your grandma and grandpa. These people have been participants and eyewitnesses for years. They possess imperative institutional knowledge or wisdom, and unless they share that knowledge with others, when they go, it goes with them.
The Lord has really been dealing with me concerning institutional knowledge. You see, my complaint has been (I know I complain all of the time) that I am not doing anything significant in ministry. I graduated from seminary ten years ago, and I feel like I haven’t done anything with my Master of Divinity. However, the Lord admonished me that although it seems like I’m not doing anything except raising my kids, struggling through life and dealing with trials and tribulations that come my way, He said He’s developing in me institutional knowledge. However, this knowledge is not about how to process reimbursements or execute payroll. This institutional knowledge is about who God is and how the Kingdom of God operates. This institutional knowledge is about learning God’s will and His ways and witnessing how God operates in the lives of His children. It’s about trials, tribulations and testing, and it’s all so I will develop this spiritual institutional knowledge.
He’s taking me through, and trust me, I’ve been going through. I’ve been down to my last penny. I was in a serious car accident a couple of weeks ago. I’ve been sick. My relationships are challenging, and God is bringing things in me up to the surface so they can be addressed. It’s rough, but He let me know that it’s all so I will have this Kingdom institutional knowledge, so when I see someone going through the storms of life, I’ll be able to share with them and encourage them. It’s so I can let them know that God will bring them through any and every situation, and not only will God bring them through, but they’ll be better than when they started.
What are these stones?
In Joshua 4, God told the children of Israel to set up twelve stones at Gilgal representing the twelve tribes of Israel as a memorial of what God had done for them. Verse 21 says, “He said to the sons of Israel, ‘When your children ask their fathers in time to come saying, ‘What are these stones?’ then you shall inform your children, saying, ‘Israel crossed this Jordan on dry ground…’” God is taking many of us through so that we can develop the institutional knowledge in Him so that we can teach, encourage and strengthen those believers coming after us. It’s so that God will always have a remnant that seek His face and remain in Him. It may look like you’re not doing anything in your life, ministry, etc. except going through trials and tribulations, but God is doing something. He is developing you, so when someone comes to you and asks “What do these stones mean?” You can tell them about the power, glory, salvation, deliverance, faithfulness and love of God.