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Surviving the Fishbowl: Letters to Pastors' Kids (Stewart)

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Pastors’ kids have it hard, feeling the weight of undue expectations and the observing world around them.

In Surviving the Fishbowl, Catherine J. Stewart assembles an experienced group of authors to give advice for those feeling the pressure of life lived in the scrutinized house of a minister. With contributions from pastors and their wives, as well as from former pastors’ kids, this book gives sage advice for those navigating difficult waters. Whether you are pastor’s kid struggling to understanding your identity, dealing with troubling social pressures, or just wishing you could escape it all, read this book and see that these trying days are survivable and even attended with blessings you may not have considered before.

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Table of Contents:

Foreword by David Strain

Part 1: Laying the Foundation

1. Identity Crisis: PK or Child of the King?—Jasmine Holmes

2. Expectations: Who Sets the Standard?—Megan Hill

3. Count Your Blessings: Enjoying the Benefits of Being a PK—Joel and Mary Beeke

4. Friendships: The Glorious Gift of Extended Family—Terry and Emily Johnson

5. Loving the Church: Pressing on Through Family Highs and Lows—Tom and Donna Ascol

Part 2: Sharks in the Bowl

6. Criticism: The Godly Response—Mike and Mae Milton

7. Loneliness: Choice or Inevitability?—Amanda Martin

8. Cultural Change: Adapting to New Surroundings—Carl and Catriona Trueman

9. Depression: The Dark Night of the Soul—Neil and Catherine Stewart

10. Rebel PK: The One that Got Away (Almost)—Ike Reeder

11. Financial Crisis: High Calling with a High Price—Daniel Wakefield



Jasmine Holmes is a wife, mom, and speaker, and the author of Mother to Son: Letters to a Black Boy on Identity and Hope. She and her husband, Phillip, have two sons, and are members of Redeemer Church in Jackson, Mississippi.

Megan Hill is a pastor’s wife and a pastor's daughter. An author of three books, she also serves as an editor for The Gospel Coalition and lives in Massachusetts with her husband and four pastor’s kids, where they belong to West Springfield Covenant Community Church (PCA).

Joel R. Beeke is President and Professor of Systematic Theology and Homiletics at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary. Married to Mary, they serve the Heritage Reformed Congregation in Grand Rapids and are blessed with three pastor’s kids and five grandchildren.

Terry and Emily Johnson live in Savannah, Georgia where Terry is the senior minister at the Independent Presbyterian church and they have five pastor’s kids. Terry is the compiler of the Trinity Psalter and the author of many books.

Tom and Donna Ascol live in Cape Coral, Florida where Tom serves as senior pastor of Grace Baptist Church. They have ten pastor’s kids. He is also the President of Founders Ministries and the editor of the Founders Journal.

Michael A. Milton, Ph.D. (Wales) is a Presbyterian minister (PCA, ARP), author, and composer who has also been and educator and Army Chaplain (Colonel) retired. He is the provost of Erskine Seminary and president of the D. James Kennedy Institute and resides in North Carolina.

Amanda Martin is editorial director at P&R Publishing. She is a pastor’s kid and member of Trinity Orthodox Presbyterian Church in Easton, Pennsylvania, and enjoys reading, baking, and learning new things.

Carl and Catriona have been married for almost 30 years, and currently live in Slippery Rock in Western Pennsylvania with two wonderful pastor’s kids, John (26) and Peter (24). Catriona is originally from the Isle of Lewis and Carl from the English Midlands.

Neil, Catherine, their six pastor’s kids, and Mr. Baxter (their intrepid Rat Terrier) live in Greensboro, North Carolina, where Neil pastors Christ Covenant Church (ARP). Before being called to the pastorate, Neil worked as a pediatrician at the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children.

Ike Reeder is a pastor’s kid and currently President of Birmingham Theological Seminary. Ike is married to Angie and has two stepchildren, Win and Virginia, a dog (Vesper) and a cat (Smokey). He and his family reside in Birmingham, AL and attend Briarwood Presbyterian Church.

Daniel Wakefield was born in 1985 into a pastor's family in Ontario, Canada. His father pastored churches in Ontario, Ohio, and Mississippi. He is currently a co-pastor at Emmanuel Baptist Church in Coconut Creek, Florida, is married to Bethany, and has three pastor’s kids.



“The aim of this volume is to provide many of the tools a pastor’s child will need. But pastors and pastors’ wives need to read it, too. Here are insights from seasoned preachers who have given years to the gospel ministry, from PK’ s who have wandered away but have come home to Christ in the end, from moms and dads who love their children and want them to thrive and want to help our children thrive, too. May the Lord use it to comfort troubled young hearts and direct them heavenward. May He use it to counsel troubled parents as they care for their ministry children. And above all, may Christ be magnified!” — David Strain (from the foreword)

“I’m not sure I’ve seen a book quite like this one, and it’s curious why that is so. Pastors’ kids are certainly in a fishbowl, and these letters covering every imaginable issue are the perfect antidote for both parents and children. Cleverly conceived and disarmingly candid, this book is sure to do a great deal of good. I nominate it as book of the year!” — Derek W. H. Thomas, senior minister, First Presbyterian Church, Columbia, South Carolina; chancellor’s professor, Reformed Theological Seminary; and teaching fellow, Ligonier Ministries

“The latest collection from Catherine Stewart is another gem. How I wish I had this volume while our three PKs were growing up. Not to worry: now this resource should be on every gift list for every pastor’s home. It is practical, biblical, and lively and features a faculty of wise and experienced parents. Having known many of the children discussed in this book and their parents, who write unique epistles to pastors’ kids, I find that this fine and timely book oozes authenticity. If you love your pastor, share this book with his children!” — David Hall, senior pastor, Midway Presbyterian Church (PCA), Powder Springs, Georgia

“Too often, the pastor’s family lives with weighty and unarticulated open secrets. Dad has been called—summoned by God and confirmed by the congregation—to undershepherd a flock of sheep (and wolves), while the pastor’s wife and children live under expectations shared by no other family in the church. PKs are born into a burden and a blessing that they did not choose but in God’s providence was chosen for them. And under the spotlight, they confront the world, the flesh, and the devil. This excellent and balanced volume gives biblical words, categories, and concepts to these real burdens. Every chapter in this book is worth its weight. And every chapter unearths an important truth—when God calls a man to the office of teaching elder (pastor), He intends a blessing for each member of his family. God never overlooks the obedience of children. While that blessing may have sharp edges and lonely days, under the light of the gospel and the love of God, it bears fruit for the child, the church, and the world." — Rosaria Butterfield, wife of Kent Butterfield, pastor of the First Reformed Presbyterian Church of Durham, North Carolina; and homeschooling mother and grandmother

“Catherine Stewart, who edited the helpful book Letters to Pastors’ Wives, has assembled another timely volume with an impressive list of contributors called Surviving the Fishbowl: Letters to Pastors’ Kids. Every pastoral family will resonate with the topics covered and find wisdom and encouragement for facing the challenges that children encounter in the course of ministry life.” — Ligon Duncan, chancellor and CEO, Reformed Theological Seminary