3 Distinct Differences Between Knowledge And Experience

I recently had an extended conversation with a business professor at Point University, a local Christian university, about what makes their program different from other business programs.  Of course, one obvious difference is the Christian perspective that is central to their mission.  However, he went into more detail about another attribute that addresses the gap between knowledge and experience in business.

Knowledge vs. experience

Have you ever had someone come to your business as an applicant or maybe even an outside salesperson?  You know the type…they insist on telling you how much they know about your business and how much they can help you.  However, as you dig further, you realize that knowledge is ALL they have.  As far as real life business experience, they have little or nothing to show.

How interested are you in listening to them spout off about their knowledge?  How much faith are you going to put into their ability to help you with your business challenges?  How long will you allow them to remain in your office?

The Need for Practical Experience

While this professor realizes that his graduates will not come out of college with a resume full of business experience, he also knows that giving his students a bucket-full of knowledge alone is not doing them a service.  For this reason, one of the most impressive components of this program is something Point University calls “Pracademics.”

In addition to classroom time, these students are assigned to teams and given real projects.  These projects are based on real challenges and problems identified in local businesses.  The student teams work in partnership with these local businesses to complete the projects in a way that is actually helpful to the businesses.  The students gain real-life business experience, relationships with local business leaders, and are then able to set themselves apart from the typical graduate with a business major!

The more I listened to all that is going on in the business department at Point University, the more I was impressed.  The leadership at this university truly understands the substantial difference between knowledge and experience…and they are doing something about it!

Your Knowledge vs. Experience

What about you?  Do you fully understand the difference between knowledge and experience?  Do you recognize the benefits of experience over knowledge?

I am sure most of us understand these differences and benefits when related to the business world.  However, I wonder if we are all applying this same understanding to our faith.

Do we seek more knowledge “about” God or do we desire to experience more of God?

It is my belief that God is not interested in how much we can learn about Him.  I do not think He measures our knowledge of Him or His ways.  Instead, the Bible indicates God desires a relationship with us.  He wants us to experience Him!

If you agree with me on this, then step back and take a look at your typical day or week.  Do you see evidence of your efforts to experience God?  Or does it look more like you are simply seeking gain knowledge about Him from various sources?

Experience Matters

I would encourage you to begin applying your energy to experiencing God.  I believe experience is not only superior to knowledge in the business world, but is also more valuable when it comes to our faith and relationship with God.  Please understand that I am not promoting experience without knowledge…they can go hand in hand!  I urge you to be sure you are not ignoring experience just because it might be more difficult to obtain.

There are many differences between experiencing God and just knowing about Him.  I have focused on three today, but I would suggest you take some time and add to this list on your own.  In doing so, you will likely see the need to adjust your focus!

The first difference I see is that we are all more eager to share something we have experienced.  Sure, it is sometimes fun to talk about something we have recently learned, but rarely are we so excited about knowledge gained that we can hardly restrain ourselves!

On the other hand, when we have an exciting experience, we are constantly looking for opportunities to share our experience with others around us!  If we are experiencing God on a regular basis, we are certainly more likely to be compelled to share that with people around us.  We are more likely to point others toward God due to our experience with Him rather than our knowledge about Him.

Stronger Ambassadors

Another difference is that knowledge is more easily argued.  It is much easier for someone to question or argue the truth of our knowledge about God.  Others can argue the facts we claim to know and believe.  It is more difficult for them to argue against what we have personally experienced with God.  Just like the blind man that Jesus healed, we do not have to KNOW everything about Him…just what we have experienced (John 9:25).  That is a more effective witness!

More Fulfilled

Finally, I think it is clear that experiencing God is much more fulfilling than gaining knowledge about Him.  When we learn a lesson from a story in the Bible, that is helpful.  When we learn a lesson from our first-hand experience with God, that is much more powerful.  Our lives are forever changed.  Which would you choose?

I hope you can see the difference between KNOWING God and just KNOWING ABOUT Him.  Begin looking for opportunities to experience Him in ways you have not in the past.  Pray that He will give you these experiences and draw you closer in relationship to Him.  You will be much better off having done so!

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  • Bob Sherbondy

    And I think that we need to move beyond a theology that is locked into God’s inspired word that has been translated and printed in books of paper pages to a personal understanding of God’s nature and personal calling that is directly communicated by the Spirit to the receptive mind/heart that has been transformed by that Spirit to enable that individual to respond in a humble experience of praise and service that is more appropriate than a person might be led to attempt from God’s printed words that were delivered to other servants centuries ago in different circumstances. The transforming words of Jesus were always initially delivered personally to individuals that he sought to bless. He never wrote a manuscript of instructions for his disciples or individuals in his audience or a prescription for a sick follower to go and read in order to get his blessing. When he was tempted by Satan in the wilderness he quoted Scripture to him to contradict the temptation, but he did not tell Satan to go and read the writings of Moses or those of Isaiah the prophet or Samuel one of the judges of Israel in his response to silence Satan with his tempting words. And I think that Satan got the points of Jesus’ words in a very direct and personal way that was more of an experience than it was an intellectual rebuke.