Don't Let Your Strength Become Your Weakness
Imprint: Resource Publications
212 Pages, 6.00 x 9.00 x 0.44 in
- Published: January 2009
$27.00 / £22.00 / AU$37.00Buy
- Published: January 2009
$25.00 / £21.99 / AU$36.99Buy
Dr. "Monty" Knight serves as pastor of First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Charleston, South Carolina. He is a Fellow of the American Association of Pastoral Counselors and an Approved Supervisor of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy. The Reverend Knight holds BA and MA degrees from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, an MDiv from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and a DMin from Princeton Theological Seminary.
Reviews of Balanced Living:
In Balanced Living, Robert Marsden Knight draws on his extensive professional experience to develop the theme that balance is essential to mental health. The considerable breadth of Knight's experience enhances his ability to draw from many fields: he deftly interlaces his vast experience with an impressive array of references to seminal works in numerous fields. He has worked as a Christian minister, a teacher, a counselor, a consultant in human relations, and a clinical supervisor of counselors. This book is replete with anecdotes from this impressive array of experiences, larded with reflections on the literature in these respective fields.
I believe this book will hold great appeal to knowledgeable lay people who are engaged in the quest for balance and good mental health in their lives. But it should appeal not only to them. As a former Presbyterian pastor and university administrator who is once again a medical school professor, I can testify that many who labor in the vineyard of human service, helping others find physical and mental health, are themselves in need of such health. For all these people - both lay and professionals -- I recommend Robert Marsden Knight's Balanced Living.
Andrew A. Sorensen, Ph. D.
President Emeritus, The University of South Carolina
Robert Marsden Knight, author of Balanced Living: Don't Let Your Strength Become Your Weakness, writes in the engaging language of story-tellers. His honesty and authenticity are apparent from the words of the introduction, in which he makes a point of writing that his approach is descriptive and interpretive. He writes from the perspective of a Christian pastor who is also a pastoral counselor and teacher of others. Although he is not Lutheran, his approach is filled with enough grace that one might think he is solidly entrenched in the perspective of law and gospel.
The cover of Balanced Living shows three rounded and oblong rocks balanced atop each other. Although there is more than a bit of surface area in contact with the rock above or below, the picture looks as though the balance is tenuous and perhaps a bit wobbly.
His book itself is solid and illustrates the fluid nature of trying to balance an individual's functioning as a unity of body, mind and spirit. Achieving balance is seen as central to healthy functioning as an individual, as a family member and as a member of a given society-whether it is in one's place of worship, one's workplace or as a member of any group of people.
Although Knight himself is well-educated, he writes with no elitism. The book is as readable and useful for lay people as it is confirming for graduate students or professionals. It is as much for people of faith as it is for secularists. Knight himself is unapologetic for his being a Christian pastor with strong roots in the Judeo-Christian tradition. He acknowledges his limited knowledge of other religions and expresses his openness to learning from them. He offers grace-filled information from his perspective as one who has spent much time getting to know himself. In the language of pastoral care, he uses "living documents" (people whom he has come to know) to get to know his subject of balanced living from a much broader perspective than can be found in intellectual, scholarly writings.
Knight told me he thought his book might be too religious for secularly people and too secular for the religious ones. I found it to be well-balanced-acceptable to both and offensive to neither. He himself is well-versed in systems theory. As such, he integrates grace as opposed to rules into all he writes. This book is a "keeper" for me.
Chaplain, The Franke Home
In his book, Balanced Living, Robert (Monty) Knight describes his journey as a teacher, a pastor, and a therapist. He discovered similarities among secularists and the clergy, among therapists and clients, among the mentally well and the casualties of human existence. Along the way he finds an interesting balance from varied theoretical positions, using the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, Erikson's theory of human development, and varied theological dogmas. I hear his message. Every human experience is unique; every event occurs at a particular time, at a certain moment, to individuals of specific ages and mannerisms and in an arrangement of all these which will never again be duplicated. In this process, he seems to say, each society ignores the qualities of uniqueness and considers only those qualities which events are believed to have in common. We seek "balance", you see. We (society) label events as external or internal, place events into categories of knowing, and place values on the relative importance of each event.
I also hear in Monty's book the influence of his church as well as of his systems approach to therapy. The theories he addresses in the book are theories about balance. This persistence of a society for uniformity and balance provides for the common physiological and psychological structure of man. Fundamental to this philosophical premise is his recognition of the subjective nature of man. Internalized value commitments are the source of one's behavior, i.e., one's conduct is in accordance to one's personal maxims of morality.
There is plain talk to the therapist here. The therapeutic situation should be such that the client must learn to solve their own problems. I also detect a little of Carl Rogers in the book. Rogers said, and I roughly paraphrase, that when the therapist perceives and accepts the client as he is, when he lays aside all evaluation and enters into the perceptual frame of reference of the client, the client is then free to explore his life and experiences anew, free to perceive in that experience new meanings and new goals. Is that not was balanced living is all about? Monty's intervention with the young mother of two in his chapter on "Counseling and Psychotherapy" demonstrated the Rogerian fundamentals of genuineness, unconditional positive regard, and an accurate and empathic understanding of the client's internal frame of reference. He reminds us that a genuine counseling relationship is also well balanced, non-exploitative, free and intense.
This book is a delight for seasoned counselor educators, practicing psychotherapists, students, and all who work in the helping professions.
Jack L. Shortridge, Ed.D.
State Counseling Director
Ringing in the New Year, I chose to read Balanced Living: Don't let your Strength Become Your Weakness and was enlightened in how Robert M. Knight intertwined marriage and family therapy, pastoral counseling, and spirituality in his approach to dealing with family life and becoming balanced in living a fully rounded life. He advocated for a balance between mental, emotional, social, moral and spiritual health, and overall social functioning. He believes that when our lives are out of balance our strengths are working against us. He shares his approach of counseling, teaching, supervising, and managing pastoral needs through examples from clinical practice and self disclosure regarding his own journey. Balanced Living causes us to change, to adapt, and to grow.
Dr. Knight graduated seminary over 40 years ago and presents an integrated approach to balancing morals, values, and beliefs while becoming fully integrated in relationships with family, work, and community. He started out in counseling fields and is now a parish minister. He uses his experiences to teach and pass on his wisdom, values and skills for future generations of counselors and marriage and family therapists. Reading his text gave me a window of opportunity to learn from the clinician, therapist, teacher, consultant, supervisor, and pastor regarding his knowledge of years of experience in working with families. His personal self disclosure brings the family metaphors and personal situations alive.
The beginning sets the foundation with a basic review of systems theory, as you become aware of his teaching and supervision style. He then blends relationships with spiritual health and stresses the importance of spirituality. He describes the three most important words in the Bible as grace, gratitude and gift. He identifies what happens in counseling from a faith perspective, including intimacy, acceptance, empathy and congruence.
Chapter 4 reviewed the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) measuring personality tendencies along four different continua of temperament traits. I found it interesting that styles can change over time, with crisis and experience. Dr. Knight saw the ideal counselor as an INFP and spoke of his insight into how styles effect relationships. I realized that my style has changed over the years, hopefully for the better.
Dr. Knight draws from the theory of Transactional Analysis, a social psychology, because of the value it places on balance as a key to emotional health. He teaches the importance of looking for opposites as opposites tend to reinforce each other and are never as far apart as they may seem. Effective counseling helps people reframe their lives, by embracing both their strengths and their weaknesses, and seeing the connection between the two. He explored balance as a key to good mental health, good moral and spiritual health, emotional well-being and social functioning. Dr. Knight takes more of an inductive approach to teaching students, beginning with concrete human situations (the specifics) and moving more toward general theoretical constructs and approaches to family therapy. He moves from the concreteness of clinical situations to the abstractness of theory. I found this book challenging and enlightening and appreciated the theoretical teachings from the Hebrew-Christian perspective.
Book can be ordered from the publisher, wipsandstock.com ISBN# 13:978-1-55635-838-8, 212 pages $23.00 paperback.
Sallie Campbell, LISW
MUSC Department of Psychiatry
Past President, SCMT Association
For twenty years Dr. Knight wrote a column ,"Balanced Living," for the Summerville (SC) Journal Scene. As the title suggest the book deals with keeping your life in balance, particularly not allowing your strengths to become weaknesses.
Balanced Livingwalks a wobbly line between textbook and self-help book. It is ideally suited for supplementary reading in counseling courses or equally at home in psychology, theology or interpersonal communication courses. It is a valuable resource for anyone who wishes to understand himself or herself better or for managers who want to understand employees better.
Dr. Knight weaves his background of growing up in a small coal mining town in Illinois, his years as an athlete, his seminary training, his years as a mental health counselor and his tenure as a Christian minister into the text to help us understand the basic premise. He poses several questions to help us examine our lives. "Do you need to tighten up or loosen up? Do you need to speak up or shut up? Do you need to hang on or let go? He relies very heavily on his extensive experience with the "Myers-Briggs Type Indicator to help us understand the way we operate along a continuum and that there is no one best type.
His chapter, "Balanced Families," helps us look at how behavioral patterns in families often become characteristic of the family's behavior pattern through multiple generations.
In his chapter,"Developmental Stages, Values and Theological Reflections," Dr. Knight extends the work of Erik Erikson to accommodate today's longer life span. His chapter, "Balanced Religion," and his section on Theological Reflections rise to a high point of expression. His treatment of the biblical concept of "grace" is without a doubt the clearest and most encompassing I have read. It is clear that his concept of grace undergirds his approach to pastoral counseling, pastoral care, and the training of future counselors. His understanding of grace is inseparable from who he is and it permeates his writing.
Dr. Knight has taught at The Citadel and Charleston Southern University, and at Webster University for thirty years. He is an Approved Supervisor of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy and a Fellow of the American Association of Pastoral Counselors. He is the pastor of the First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Charleston, South Carolina. Balanced Living, can be ordered from www.wipfandstock.com.
C. Mitchell Carnell, Ph. D.
Charleston (SC) Speech and Hearing Clinic
In Balanced Living Robert Marsden Knight draws upon the breath of his reading, study, and considerable experience as a pastor, therapist and teacher and provides the reader with valuable information and timely wisdom which can be of great benefit to struggling persons and to those who work with them professionally or personally. It is his thesis that balance is integral to good mental health, emotional well being, moral and spiritual health and social functioning. Well aware of the temptations and tendencies that can lead to excesses of one form or another and bring misery in their wake, Knight is particularly astute in enabling the reader to discern how even those personal strengths and assets which often define an individual can become dangerous liabilities if not kept in balance with other issues. Fortunately I was able to read this text while stranded in snowbound airports for two days. With the author's help, I came to regard even this weather induced delay a providential break for reading and reflection, a needed and healthy balance in my own life, if you will.
Dr. Knight provides an excellent overview, descriptive and interpretive more so than critical, of the kinds of help available to people today and what they may reasonably expect from various professionals who bring to their counseling and therapy varied gifts and approaches. As a minister who often refers people to other professionals on a regular basis, I found Balanced Living to be a wonderful refresher course from seminary counseling classes and also a practical guide that I will continue to use in ministering to individuals and families. Case studies throughout the text, as well as humorous personal insights, helped to make practical, personal and enjoyable the theories and therapies discussed. I commend this work to persons whose lives have somehow gotten out of balance and to those of us in helping professions who work with them.
The Reverend Dr. Daniel Massie
First Scots (Presbyterian) Church
Charleston, South Carolina