Untying the Knots

Untying the Knots


John Trent, Ph.D.

Don’t miss Dr. Trent speaking at the AACC Fall CMHC summit in Naperville IL, Nov. 3-5 2016! Click Here for More Information!



Several years ago, a pastor friend recounted to me a pivotal time in his relationships with his wife and children. He was the senior (and only) full-time pastor at a start-up church in our city. As usual, he’d been at the church office all day. He’d rushed home. Started wolfing down his dinner. All before going back to the church that night.

He thought he was getting positive “points” for making the effort to come home. But he wasn’t really “there.” He kept his head down. Shoveled down his food. Never once engaged his wife in conversation. Never asked what his son or daughter had done that day in school. Like a disk drive out of space, the crush of ministry details blocked him from having any mental or emotional room to really “see” his family.

When my friend finally spoke, it was to stand up and say, “Sorry, gang. I gotta run. It’s Tuesday night and that means I’ve got to meet with the elders and go on visitation.”

But as he turned to leave, his daughter yelled out, “Dad!” causing him to stop and look back.

“Can I ask you a question before you go?” she pleaded.

“Sure, honey,” he said. “But make it quick, OK?”

“Daddy, next week can you visit our family?”

Heartache flooded this father. Here he was trying to grow a church, going the extra, extra mile required of any start-up. Trying to set the pace and model for his elders and leaders his commitment to Christ. But his commitment to be “on mission” in his community was resulting in his missing out on the commitment to be there for his wife and children. They were orphans at home.

The weight of his misplaced priorities hit him that night as he stood next to the table. But here’s the great thing. To my friend’s credit, he turned around, sat down, and took out his phone. With a call, he canceled his visitation plans and the elder meeting. And he begin the hard work of really “seeing” his family.

“That was the hardest conversation I’ve ever had with my wife, kids or anyone,” he told me. “I went around the table, asking each one of them, beginning with my wife, to share with me what I was like to live with. Did they really think I wasn’t there for them? No one came to my rescue.”

And here’s the key part, in his mind: “The turning point for me was when I went around the table and sincerely asked for each person’s forgiveness. Then I got out my calendar, and marked out a “family night” one day each week. We’ve stuck to it for years now. That night changed our family. It probably saved my marriage. I’ve thanked the Lord many times that my daughter had the courage to speak up before I walked out.”

What brought change to this family? What moved this pastor to start bringing “the Blessing” home, instead of just taking it to other homes? In case you missed it, it was the decision to “untie a knot.” This can be pretty tough for many of us who are in counseling or ministry positions, where the is always more to do…more people to help.

Remember what this father did first after canceling his meetings? He went around and asked each family member for forgiveness. What does that have to do with untying a knot? While in seminary, I became very familiar with one of the few “regular” verbs in Greek. It’s “luo”—the New Testament word for forgiveness. And what we learned was that “luo” literally means “to untie the knot.”

If you’re anything like me, “untying knots” that I’ve caused is really hard to do. To stop. To really “see” how you’ve hurt someone. Then to take the time and effort to “untie the knot.” I played football in high school and wrestled in college. It’s not in my nature to give an inch. Not when I’m driving, and unfortunately, not at home either. Even when I know I’m wrong. But in God’s “counter cultural” world, strength isn’t measured by never giving an inch. Dr. Darryl Delhousaye, President of Phoenix Seminary, is fond of saying about forgiveness, “The stronger person always initiates the peace.”

Think about our Lord. In Romans 5:8, we’re told, “But God demonstrates His own love towards us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

My friend could have become defensive and made a “case” for needing to go back to church that night, but instead he chose the harder path. Being willing to stop. To really “see” his wife and children, and listen to their hearts. To drop his head. To ask forgiveness.

We don’t lose when we choose to forgive. We gain. That’s because “forgiveness”—untying the knot—is a great way to bring “the Blessing” home…



Like what you read? Come hear more from Dr. John Trent as he joins us as a plenary speaker at the Fall 2016 Church and Mental Health Summit. This incredible event will be held at Calvary Church in Naperville, IL on November 3-5th, 2016. Come listen, learn, and fellowship with other professionals and experts. The Church and Mental Health 2016 Summit is one that you do not want to miss! Sign up today at www.cmhcsummit.com!




John Trent, Ph.D., is President and Founder of StrongFamilies.com and The Center for StrongFamilies, a team of professionals committed to training and equipping lay and pastoral leaders to build strong marriage and family relationships in their home churches. Dr. Trent is also one of the founders of Leading From Your Strengths and Insights International, creators of the Leading From Your Strengths online strengths assessment. His main focus includes writing and speaking at retreats, conferences, business settings, churches and seminars across the country. In addition to being a nationally known family speaker, Dr. Trent regularly does keynote speaking across corporate America on teambuilding, recruiting and retaining outstanding employees. He is a bestselling and an award-winning author as he has authored and co-authored more than 20 books. As a writer, Dr. Trent has been nominated for the ECPA’s Gold Medallion Award for excellence in writing 17 times, winning 14 silver medallions and 3 gold medallion awards for excellence in Christian publishing. He is also a contributing columnist for Christian Parenting magazine for five years. As part of the Adjunct Faculty at Phoenix Seminary, Dr. Trent has been the “Writing Coach” for the faculty at Azusa Pacific University. Further, he has been a featured guest on radio and popular television programs. Dr. Trent has been married to his wife, Cynthia, for over 30 years and they have two daughters.