012: How To Handle Pressure At Work – Todd Stocker.com

Pressure gauge

Sometimes, work can be stressful as you feel the pressure of deadlines and overwhelming expectations. Here are a few tips that can help take the edge off of pressure at work.

Show Notes:

A listener asks, “I’m in a very high stressed job and constantly feel the pressure to do more and be more. With deadlines constantly looming, how can keep my sanity in my stressful position?”

I know exactly what he’s talking about. All of us feel the pressure of our jobs at one point or another. You need to remember,

Pressure doesn’t define you; it refines you.

But you have to make the choice to respond.
Episode 004 has a formula that outlines the power of choosing our response: E+R=O:

E= events
R= response
O= outcome

They key is how you are responding to the events.  Your response often determines the outcome.

It’s okay to be busy. Being busy means that theres is plenty to do.  But being hurried is what causes the stress.  Even Jesus was busy but he still had time to stop, connect and help people along the way.

Here are a few pointers on handling stress:

  • Track your stressors. Keep a journal for a week or two to identify which situations create the most stress and how you respond to them. …
  • Develop healthy responses. …
  • Establish boundaries. …
  • Take time to recharge. …
  • Learn how to relax. …
  • Talk to your supervisor. …
  • Get some support.

It is also important to prepare for you day.

Preparation is the pressure valve on a busy schedule [Tweet that here].

Plan your day. At the beginning of the week, either Sunday night or first thing Monday, look at your week and make sure you’re not over committing or scheduling meetings or events too close together.

If you’re still becoming more and more stressed you might need to evaluate if you’re in the right position to begin with.  If you’re cranky, taking it out on family over a long period of time, it may be time to move on.



No Service = No Stress – Todd Stocker.com

vinointhevalleyThere’s a small and very unique restaurant not one hour from my home called “Vino in the Valley.”  Set in the remote hill country of southern Wisconsin, this open patio-style eatery offers fantastic Italian food and wines from a local winery.  

Recently, my wife and I and several friends spent the better part of an evening enjoying each others company, feasting on the various pasta dishes that landed on our table.  While the food was great and wines even better, there was one benefit to this place that most others didn’t offer — no cell service. 

I know that may seem strange as a benefit, but it was.  Because of its hidden location, nestled in a bowl between deeply wooded hills, the chatter-signals simply couldn’t bounce in.  As a result, all of us either left our phones in our cars or used them solely as cameras.  Here’s what I found happened to me.  

I was present in the conversations.  I was focused on people in front of me rather than those buzzing in my coat pocket.  For me, that’s a big deal.  Being an idea guy, I tend to hear an idea, spin it around in my head and imagine all the possibilities — mentally leaving the conversation for a few minutes.  This drives my wife nuts!  

Yet settled in the valley on a cool night in June, I could focus and enjoy.  Without the stress of technology, I wasn’t distracted to post on Facebook, check email or write down ideas for my blog or upcoming podcast.  I was given the gift of full engagement, learning more about the friends about whom I love deeply. 

Maybe, I should leave my phone in the car more often.   Just a thought.


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Every day they continued to meet together — They broke bread — and ate together with glad and sincere hearts.

[from Acts 2:46]

God Will Stop Your Traffic

traffic-jamTraffic normally doesn’t ruffle my feathers. That one day, it did.

I was late for an appointment and I hate being late. You know the drill. Rushing out the door. Grasping at anything. Bumping into everything. Feeling like your world is on the verge of collapse. You neglect the goodbye-spouse kiss and speed backward out of your driveway almost hitting the 5th grader walking to the bus stop.

That day, construction rerouted me and the rest of Minneapolis onto a side street that led to the convergence of 5 opposite streams of traffic, cramming into an immediate two lanes that was pushed to one further up the way.

There I sat, wondering if my Honda could handle a trek across mountainous terrain to get to my looming appointment. This was going to take me forever.

But then I made a decision. I chose to look out the window at the bordering forestry. I chose admiration over perspiration. A large black oval shape caught my eye. It was the 10 foot diameter of a bald eagle’s nest with it’s resident sitting on the edge. It was a sight that was majestic and it filled my soul with wonder.

God has a way of slowing you down to see the things He want’s you to see. He is particular in the ways He does it. He is intentional in His timing and He is planned in His purpose for which He gives it.

What if the momentary traffic jam you’re experiencing is urging you to look into the forestry of His beauty? What if that overwhelming feeling is calling you to instead be overwhelmed by His love? What if a cluster of problems draws you closer to Him?

It’s only traffic. You’ll get there eventually.

“Slow down. Take a deep breath. What’s the hurry?”  Jeremiah 2:25, The Message

(By the way, if you live in the St. Paul area and want to know where that nest is, click here)



You Need Breathing Room


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Picture this.  Your iPhone alarm rings on your nightstand.  It’s 7am.  The problem is that your High School aged daughter needs to be at school for an early rehearsal at 7:15.  Good thing its only a 5 minute drive but she’s still sound asleep.  Your spouse is already out of bed and gone, having left early and into his day.  Your other two kids are also asleep but your faithful dog is not.  He found the chicken bones that you discarded in the garbage after dinner last night and is munching on them all over the kitchen floor.

You jump out of bed, fly down the hall and wake up your daughter; she’s now in a GREAT mood.  You throw on your robe rush to the kitchen, impale your foot with a bone sliver and your dog barks at you for ruining his eating experience.  It’s now 7:02.

Toast in. Milk poured.  Keurig on.

From down the hall you hear yelling.  One of your younger two has woken up and slipped into the only bathroom on the second level causing your older daughter to be locked out from her makeup, hair straightener and fingernail polish.  The yelling continues and you rush and join in, addressing your younger one to “get out of there now cause sissy is late!”  He flings open the door and stomps out.  You notice he is frowning and crying but you also notice the finger polish remover has been dumped over onto the counter by his tirade and is dripping down on the wood base.  It’s 7:07.

The dog has just thrown up and your now awake youngest has found it.  “Painting!” she proclaims as you see her making a smiley face with it on the floor and the dog begins to … well you know.  It’s 7:10.

You run to the car, leaving your son to watch the baby while you speed your daughter to school.  You fly into the parking lot, she jumps out of the mini-van like a hurricane, leaving the door open and disappears into the already bustling school building.  Now you have to jump out of your vehicle in your slippers and robe to run around and close the van door.  As you do, the line of cars behind you start to honk.  It’s 7:18.  She’s late.  Your late.

Welcome to your life.

Wouldn’t it be nice to have some Breathing Room?  That’s the series our church is doing based on a great series by North Point Community Church.  The whole premise is that God has intended for us not to live at our limits all the time.  Not to push the ceiling of our abilities but to intentionally create space in our time, our finances and our schedules.  I love that in 2 Samuel 22:20, God led David out into open spaces and refreshed him there.

You and I need space in our lives.  Ask yourself these questions:

  • Am I constantly late for my daily appointments and duties?
  • Is there always more month at the end of the money?
  • Do I feel distracted because of all the things I feel I have to do at work, home or school?

If you consistently answer yes to these, you may need to start saying no and trust that God will take care of the rest.

“But me he caught—reached all the way from sky to sea; he pulled me out
Of that ocean of hate, that enemy chaos, the void in which I was drowning.
They hit me when I was down, but God stuck by me.
He stood me up on a wide-open field; I stood there saved—surprised to be loved!”  2 Samuel 22:17-20



Un-Comfort Your Comfort Zone

Your Comfort Zone.  Defined as a place or situation where one feels safe or at ease and without stress, most of us live for our comfort zones.  The problem with only living in our comfort zone is that we never grow.  Think about it, if you only did what was comfortable, you would never get married, never work, never explore, never experience other people in need of your love!

When-Our-Comfort-Zone-Becomes-A-Danger-ZoneMaf Berg, a women from our church, recently returned from a mission trip to Roatán.  Maf has been on many trips before and is a warrior for helping people and spreading the message of Jesus but this time, she went to a place that pushed her out of her comfort zone.  Maf writes,

“While I had been to Roatán before, this time, the women did something we’d never done before that was WAY out of our comfort zone.  We made sandwiches and brought them and Kool-Aid to the local jail!  (In Honduras, the inmates don’t eat unless family members bring them food; and, when you live on less that $1 a day, there isn’t much to spend on food for an incarcerated brother or father).  The jail was like a medieval dungeon – pitch dark, no windows or lights in the cells, and a bucket in the middle of the floor for urinating.  The cells are small that when its at capacity (which is only 8 people and is often full) the men have to sleep standing up!   The smell was so bad we literally didn’t know if we were going to faint or throw up!  But when we gave the men/boys Bibles, several already had New Testaments and pulled them out of their pockets and read along with us!”

God is constantly calling us to venture out of our comfort zones and add value to the lives of others.  It may be tough talking to that person in the office about hope.  It may be tiring to give up an hour or two to serve at a food shelf or at a ministry like We Do Feet.  God may even bring you to a foreign country in order that you may share about this amazing concept called Grace.

I think that this quote captures God’s design for a life surrendered to Him:

“Life’s journey is not to arrive at eternity safely and soft from comfort, but rather to slide in sideways, totally worn out, shouting ‘Yee Haw! What a ride!'”

“For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy1:7

How can you step out of your comfort zone today to add value to someone else’s life?




 There is a phrase that I don’t toss around anymore.  That phrase is

“God won’t give you more than you can handle.”

Why don’t I juggle these words?  Because, frankly, they aren’t true.  Nowhere in the Bible does it appear.  Nowhere in the archives of theological history does it find voice.  Nowhere in my experience does it have stance.  God DOES give or allow more than I can handle.

Ask any mother who experiences a miscarriage.  Ask any dad who looses his career after 20 years with the company.  Ask any student who faces their first romantic breakup.  Life seems over – it seems unbearable – it seems too much to handle.

What God does say is that in those times of life explosion, He will be there with you.  When the weight of tragedy crushes down, He promises to hold you up.  He can and will give you peace even when you can’t handle the pressure.

Believe me, I know.  Having experienced every parent’s worst nightmare, I know.

Blogger Aaron Armstrong has a great post on this.  Click Here to read it.

How has God helped you when you couldn’t handle life’s struggles?



Storms intrigue me.  When clouds roll in and light is muted by dark, I know that somethin is a-brewin.  In fact, just last night I watched lightening be answered by thunder against the backdrop of rain.  The flash begins the countdown to the boom.  When the boom happens, the coffers of my house shake and the cackling of the bolt wake my children.

How often do flashes of trouble streak across our lives and are answered by the thunder of stress? Sometimes, too often.  That is when God steps in and tells the flash, tells the boom, “BE STILL.”  Be still, Stress – know that God can handle the thunder.  Be still, Worry – know that God can calm the flash.  Be still, my anxious heart – know that God is the god of tomorrow, today and yesterday and that He holds the weathered me in the palm of His hand.

“He says, ‘Be still, and know that I am God'” – Psalm 46:10

Question:  What stresses you out and how do you find peace?  Write a comment below …



I’m not sure if it’s my favorite app, but it is one that I use several times per day.  It’s called Wunderlist.  It’s free (of course) and it is a simple to-do list that syncs across all of my screens.  While it is a way for me to organize my day, I’ve found a greater benefit:  I accomplish more while working less.  Let me explain.

Before I started organizing my daily activities, I would gravitate toward accomplishing tasks that I liked to do – writing, researching, reading etc.  Some days this worked fine, ending my day with a small sense that I’ve finished what needed to be done.  Most days, the tyranny of the urgent decimated my hit-or-miss schedule and I’d end up stressed out and overworked.

Once I began thinking in “small-daily-action” terms and dedicated my tasks to Wunderlist, my productivity level skyrocketed as my stress level plummeted.

How do you use Wunderlist (or, another app – Evernote)?  Simply put everything on the list with a due date.  Write notes by each task if you need to but make sure that you create a global list for larger tasks and break them down into smaller chunks using due dates.  Then be diligent about completing the small, daily tasks by the end of the day.  Like me, when you reach the end of your day, you’ll find at least one or two tasks that weren’t all that important and thus, didn’t get accomplished.  Decide if you need to change their due date to tomorrow or take the due date out all together.  Take 5 min. at the beginning and end of your day to organize and you’re set to go!

As it says in Proverbs 6:6,

“Consider the ways of the ant and be wise.” 

Question:  How do you stay organized during your day?  Write a Reply below …


“Please God, Help Her”

It was a small blue car that pulled along side me at a random stoplight next to a railroad crossing sign.  I don’t remember much about its make or year  but I do remember the driver.  She was in her mid-twenties – her brown hair pulled up in a bun with wisps that exploded from the middle like a fourth of July firework. At four in the afternoon, it looked like she had just rolled out of bed.

She was on the phone.  Momentary bursts of anger played out in hitting the stirring wheel, occasionally lifting her left hand – palm up – and briefly hiding an ever increasing tearing with a quick wipe.

I felt sorry for her.  Maybe she was talking to the IRS.  Maybe she was trying to figure out her student loan consolidation.  Most likely, she was trying to verbally glue together the tattered fragments of a once love relationship.

Again, I felt sorry for her.  I wanted to help.  But the time was short.  Green was coming.  So I asked the One I knew could do what I couldn’t.  No big speech of prayer with large churchy words.  I simply said, “Please God, help her.”  That’s what it means to love all people.  If you can’t do anything, ask the One who can.  When the light changed, she went right, I went left.  But neither of us went alone.  In the midst of our deepest hurt, the One is always there.

So maybe you are the girl in the blue car.  Maybe you are the one I saw yesterday at the stop sign of hope and pain.  If you are, just remember that there are people whom you don’t know, who love you and pray for you.

Now, my light is green.



There is a Starbucks coffee shop on the boardwalk in Kemah, TX.  If you’ve been there, you can picture it resting in the shadow of the mighty roller coaster.  When there, I loved being the first one to grab my early morning Joe and take a slow – very slow – walk around the pier and pathways that encompassed the amusement rides.  Sometimes, I’d meet my friend Sam Brown but mostly I would notice the rides.  That early, they were quiet.  No roar of the steel tracked kiddie cars.  No hum of the carousel.  No churning of the “Vominator” as I call it.  Simply the few workers who were testing, cleaning and inspecting every hinge that would keep the riders safe.

Solitude is not a luxury but a necessity.  God set up the cosmos for the ebb and flow of activity and quiet.  Yet, we fight against the value of being still.  We wield the sword of our schedules against the rejuvenating, calming and refreshing time of inspecting and fine-tuning our lives.

Why is that?

This morning, as is my custom, I woke up before my household, keuriged my coffee and spent time in prayer, calm and thought.  I am ready for the riders of my day.  I am set for the bustle of the crowds of my schedule.  And all it takes is a few extra moments in the quiet of His presence.


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Do You Live on an Island or Bridge?

I’ve met many people during my years of ministry.  Wonderfully flawed, beautifully imperfect souls whose journeys have been dotted with ups and downs, victories and losses.

One observation that has proven to be true more times than not is shaped by the question, “Do they live on an Island or a Bridge?”  Here’s how this goes.

The Island is what one would define as a ‘normal’ life.  Daily schedules, common frustrations and everyday tasks all contribute to their steady rhythms of life.  Stress levels ebb and flow just like everyone elses.  Those who live mostly on islands are what you’d call normal.

The Bridge is defined as the more-than-normal struggles in their life.  A failed class, job, business or relationship.  A tragic loss, a major health issue, a sudden drama.  The Bridge is a place of transition.

Island dwellers are uncomfortable with being on the bridge but see it as a connection to another island; an island where they can set up home again and settle into normalcy.

Bridge dwellers are uncomfortable with Islands. When life seems to be going well, i.e. they are on an Island, they become fidgety.  As a result, they consciously (or unconsciously) create drama so they can live on the uncertain, swaying of the bridge.  Their ‘normalcy’ is chaos and think that something is wrong unless they or someone around them is have a hemorrhage!  Oxymoronic!

Examine your life’s attitude.  Are you an Island dweller or a Bridge dweller?  Can you identify people who live mainly on the Islands or Bridges?