069: Christmas – What We Can Learn About Servant Leadership – Todd Stocker.com

If you’re a Christian or not, Christmas teaches us all about Servant Leadership. Today we learn from a great model who was the best servant leader ever!

On This Episode:

Today’s Quote:  “You’ll do more GOOD if you aim to SERVE more than you aim to PLEASE”. – Chris Edmonds

Most people recognize Christmas as a time when the faithful celebrate the coming of Jesus into the world.  So today, I want you to think through what Jesus did.  Even if you’re not a church-goer or spiritual, I believe Christmas is about Servant leadership.

Servant leadership is about fixing problems. 

So there are 3 basic components of fixing problems.

  1. Identify or become aware of a need
  2. A plan is set in place depending on the problem.
  3. Someone takes ownership of getting it done.  This is where servant leadership comes in.

So how does this sync up with the story of Christmas?

God identified a problem with all of humanity in that wrong-doing (or sin) caused a break in our relationship with him.  He set a plan in place of paying the price for that wrong-doing with the goal of bringing people back into a loving relationship with him.  Jesus came to pay that price,  initiating the greatest act of servant leadership in the world — dying and rising to make things right.  


At its core, servant leadership is all about the leader being a servant to the people under his watch.



Christmas Light Has Come – Todd Stocker.com

christmas light has come.001I came home late last night (Christmas Eve), exhausted and exhilarated from my work at the church.  Snuggled on the couch, I found it funny to see my wife and two twenty-ish year-old children in fetal positions, waiting for me like 5 years olds waiting for Santa.

I saw it in their eyes.  They wanted to open gifts.  Succumbing to their kid-like grins, I agreed.  Nathan played Santa.  And let me just say, he was hilarious.  Diving under the tree, he’d grab gifts and deliver them to their designated owners.  Each gift opened, he danced around and was more excited about the gift than the opener was.  “Its a Christmas miracle!” he’d exclaim at the revelation of every gift of socks, lotion or deodorant (that last one was mine and yes, we’re cheap).

There was one problem.  The lights in our living room were dim — very dim.  It’s how my family likes it to create a ‘mood’ as they call it.  For me, I couldn’t see anything.  Mood, shmood — if there is no light, you fumble around, even when opening Christmas gifts.

That is how it is when the light is dim.  Life becomes a frustrating game of fumbling.

That is why Christmas is a wonderful celebration of light.  A light from God, coming down and breaking into the story of man.  Jesus dispelling the darkness that causes all men to fumble.

There is a hymn we used to sing in which is sung,

“In him there is no darkness at all.  The night and the day are both alike.”

Yes, Christmas.  The celebration that into our brokenness, God sends healing.  In our desperation, God sends hope.  In our darkness, God sends a little baby to be the light of the world.

This morning, the gifts are unwrapped and sitting on our coffee table.  Now that it’s morning, I can actually see what everyone received, because the light has come and all is well.


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023: 5 Tips On Handling Your Family During The Holidays – Todd Stocker.com

weird familyFor most, the holidays are wonderful times of celebrations with friends and family. But what if your family celebrations are filled with tension? I offer 5 tips on handling those stressful times.

On This Podcast:

This time of year can be wonderful.  All of the events and celebrations with family should make us happy.  But a recent survey said 24% of people are dreading seeing relatives during the holidays.  That’s 76million people!

What if there was a way  — this Christmas — that instead of dreading seeing crazy Uncle Ralph or that obnoxious cousin, that you felt good about getting together with them.

There is a solution!  It comes from the Bible.

Romans 12:15-18.  “Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all!  Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all people.

And this is the key verse:  “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with everyone.”

At the end of the day, have you done everything YOU can to be at peace with those family members?

How to do that?

  1. Ahead of time, think through the patterns.  When you’re with that person, what starts the conversation going down the wrong path?  What sets you off?  If you think through ahead of time, you’ll be prepared to avoid – politics, religion whatever. They might not respond positively, but remember “as far as it depends on YOU.”
  2. “Kill them with encouragements.”  Or compliments.  Not falsely.  You can say, “Interesting sweater.  I like your hair.  Great ham.”  Just be authentic.
  3. Ask for help from them.  Let’s say your getting gifts out of the car and you could carry all of them.  Don’t.  Go in and ask Uncle Fred for help.  When you ask someone for help, it immediately forms a kindred between the two of you.
  4. Sometimes it might mean removing yourself from the situation.
  5. Predetermine to enjoy the gathering.  This is the most powerful.  Believe ahead of time that the gathering will be enjoyable.  Speak it out loud.  Your subconscious mind will go into the family gathering believing that it will be great.  When the negative comments from your mother in law start to fly, your subconscious mind will try to reconcile the difference by 1st, reminding you of your commitment to make it a great event, then help you remember how to respond with peace.

I believe that this year’s christmas gatherings are going to be great for you because you’re the smartest podcast audience out there and you are dedicated to talking Romans serious, as far as it depends on you, be a peace with everyone!


How Do You Handle The Busy Flurry? – Todd Stocker.com

Busy-retail-ChristmasHow do you handle the busy flurry?

There’s a flurry a’comin and I’m not talking snow.  It’s called the Christmas/Holiday season.  The starting line is usually Thanksgiving with a finish the first of the year.  It seems this is the time when expectations trump priorities and chaos takes the controls. 

Some of the flurry is fun.  For me, Black Friday is fun.  Not that I drop a boat load of cash on the deeply discounted items.  But my joy is going to a mall and watching others surge with the crowds like dull-eyed fish washing up and down with the tides. 

I also like the busyness of it all.  I gives me focus.  It forces my lazy hand.  It beckons me to be prepared and allows me the opportunity to be better than last flurry-season.

How do you handle the busy flurry?  

  • I’d suggest having a game plan as you enter into this next season.   Part of that plan might be to first, get your priorities straight.  Priorities help you say no more often than yes.  They keep you sane and focused and help you make decisions based on goals. 
  • Another part of that plan is to ask what you really want out of the season.  Is ‘crazy exhaustion’ what you desire or a ‘fulfilled joy’ as you celebrate faith, family and friends?
  • A third way to handle the busy flurry is to set your day at the beginning of your day.  The first hour of your day often determines your attitude, mindset and emotion as you get out there and battle one more time.  It is often called “The Rudder of The Day” and sets you on your course.

Above all, know that you are a human being, not a human doing.  Your value is not reflective in the expense of your store-bought presents or the busyness surrounding their procurement.  Your worth is found in who you are as a masterful creation of the heavenly Artist, himself.  You are valuable because he is valuable and is the reason for the celebrations in the first place. 

“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus”  Ephesians 2:10


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maryponderingA quick Christmas Day tour of Facebook reveals “pondering.” The student who is glad to be home for the holidays. The mom who watches her kids as they open gifts. The dad who reflects on his gratefulness for his family. The pondering heart is a thankful heart because to ponder means to throw ideas together and weave them into a tapestry of meaning.

As the sun crept over the line that marks evening from morning, Mary pondered. She thought of the visit by the angel nine months before. She remembered the pain it caused to tell Joseph her fiancé that she was pregnant, out of wedlock. She rehearsed her journey to see Elizabeth and the flowing heart of love that poured out into praises to God. She thought through the last months of dodging the condemning looks of the townspeople and the long journey to Bethlehem. She received the shepherds’ message with joy and she pondered it all.

I wonder. Do you ponder this morning. Jesus birth, the angels, the manger scene, what Jesus did for you – do you ponder it. Busyness chokes deep thinking and selfishness squelches love.

In the aftermath of presents and parties, gatherings and give aways, I pray that you wake up a bit earlier tomorrow and simple take time to ponder.

“… and Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.”

Luke 2:19




The Christmas tree. Tall and green and decorated as a fixture in our home during the Christmas season. Each year, I sit on our couch next to our tree and admire the decorations that are so carefully placed on its branches. I admire the creativity of the handmade ones.  You know the ones.  The ones made from clay or paper.  The ones that kids bring home from school made especially for you.

The ornaments on the tree each have their own stories. They tell of that first Christmas. They speak volumes about your own childhood or that one special year. And maybe, they remind us of someone we love who is not here.

Ultimately all of the ornaments tell our story. One families story. Of hope, of struggle, of peace and of love.

As you look at your tree this Christmas, my prayer is that the memories that flood your mind are ones of goodness and grace.

Merry Christmas everyone.



Good Men Are Sometimes Afraid

“Joseph, her fiancé, was a good man and did not want to disgrace her publicly, so he decided to break the engagement quietly. As he considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. “Joseph, son of David,” the angel said, “do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit.” (Matthew 1:19, 20 NLT)


Good men are sometimes afraid.  Think about Joseph.  A hard-working man whose integrity was well known.  He falls in love with a young girl and pledges to marry her.  In that culture, the pledge was binding.  Suddenly, the love of his life shares the news of an unplanned pregnancy.  Joseph knew that scorn and ridicule would await him if he went through with his plan to marry Mary.  But the Spirit told him not to be afraid because even though on the outside, things look bleak, on the inside often the Holy Spirit is at work.

This reminds me to trust that the Holy Spirit of God is at work behind the scenes, even though it can be scary.   Move forward. Don’t stop.  See what God can do.

Lord, as I look at aspects of my life, fear paralyzes me.  Help me to be a good man an give me the confidence to move forward with fear.


(This post was written using the S.O.A.P. method.  It is the method I use for my morning quiet time.  Want to know what it is?  Click Here).



The Divine Demotion

Have you ever been demoted?  It’s humiliating.  It’s depressing.  It chides at our fragile egos and causes questions of worth.  Normally, a demotion streamlines a department at your expense and you have little or no control over the decision.  christmas-cross-wallpaper__yvt2

But think of Christmas.  Think of the baby so many worship this season.  In his previous position, he had all the power to reorganized the cosmos and created efficiencies in the systems that run the universe.  At his simple word, things that weren’t, became.  Knowing all, he chose to put in for the ultimate demotion, from God to Human.  That’s a sacrifice.

Now think of the Good Friday and Easter.  Once again, he chose to sign his own pink-slip in blood.  Demoting himself to being tortured by religious terrorists, eager to keep things as they are.  And at any point, he could’ve snuffed them from the annals of history, but he didn’t.  He knew what salvation for people he cared for would take.  He knew that even though they didn’t love him, he loved them.  He knew that ultimately, salvation of the world would take two Divine Demotions.

(Thanks to Bill Hybels for the inspiration for this blog.  Hear his message here).