085: The Power Of Trust In Conversations And How To Build It [Podcast] – Todd Stocker.com

Have you ever been talking with someone and intuitively, you know their mind is somewhere else? Maybe it’s their eyes peering over your shoulder or something they say that doesn’t fit the current conversation? It’s irritating. Today, I share how to NOT be THAT person.

On This Episode:

Quote of the day:

“Engagement builds trust” – Todd Stocker

I want to do a podcast on multitasking because studies show that no one can actually multitask.

So why am I talking about this in regards to meeting with someone?

I know that you want to be fully present when you’re having a conversation.  Here’s why this is important.  Engagement builds trust.   And if you aren’t present and engaged in your conversation, whether you know it or not,  you are communicating to the other person they aren’t  important.

In business, the old saying is, “people do business with those they trust”.

I want to do business with people I trust.  I want to know that who they are and what they say is true.  I also want to know that when I’m talking with them, that they are engaged because if they are, that solidifies my trust in them.  They are fully present in the conversation and therefore, communicates that I matter to them and what I have to say is valuable.

So how can you communicate that you are truly present and engaged when you’re in conversation?

  1. Before you have a meeting with your staff person, take a minute or two to clear your mind so you could be present.  There are all kinds of little tricks for this.  Some use quick meditation skills, others close their eyes and imagine the persons face.

For me, it is a combination of two things.  One is I pray that God would keep me focused and two is I visualize a file folder with the person’s name on it and mentally I open it up in front of me.  I don’t  know why, but for me, it helps me prepare my mind to look into that person in a more focused way

2. Repeat keywords.  If I find myself drifting, this is especially helpful.  Ask a second question about something they just said.  I did a whole podcast on this in episode 76.  Toddstocker.com/076.   Finally, and this is the most important, I engage in the conversation, using a coach approach.  I

3. Finally, and this is the most important, I engage in the conversation, using a coach approach.  I simply force myself to do less talking, more questioning and more engaged listening.

Most people listen for you to take a breath so that they can share what they want to share.  There are times for that.  But mostly, I stay in the conversation — where they are — and I just stay curious.  Curious about where the conversation will lead — curious about what the person needs, wants and values, and curious about how God may use their experience or my experience to come to the next step for them.

This week’s homework:
Keep engaged in conversations and don’t rush to the conclusion.



008: 3 Ways To Overcome Fear – Podcast – Todd Stocker.com


Show Notes: (Audio attached at the end of the post)

Listener Question: “Todd, sometimes, I seemed to be paralyzed by fear.  I have things in life that I want to do but I’m always thinking that it might not work out or I’m afraid to even take a first step.  I want to believe that I can live my life fear-free.  is that even possible?” – Gavin.

 The quick answer to that is no.  It’s not possible not to be afraid.  Being afraid is natural, human response that we use for safety.  If I wasn’t afraid of driving my car 120mph, the odds of me crashing increase. If I wasn’t afraid of being on the wrong side of town late at night, I’m inviting trouble and danger.

So where does Fear come from?  First, it comes from the unknown.  If you’ve never been to Europe, there is an element of fear as you step off the plane and try to execute your plan for a vacation.  If you can’t see in the dark, you are fearful of what might be out there.

It also comes from past experiences.  If you’ve spoken in front of a large crowd and you didn’t think it went well, you are less likely to do it again because of the fear of failure.  The interesting thing is that experiences are basically neutral.  We assign meaning to them which we deem as negative or positive.  Let me say that again.  Most events that happen in your life are pretty much neutral.  But based on your experiences, based on what we’ve been told, based on other factors, we bring meaning to the experience.  If you place a negative experience on the event, you’re much more likely to be afraid of doing it again.  (But that’s another conversation for another day.)

How do you combat fear?  Let me give you 3 ways.

  1. Know that God is with you always (Matthew 28:20)
  2. Learn the phrase “Make Reality Your Friend,” from Peaks and Valleys.
  3. Ask yourself, “what’s the worst that can happen?”

Another aspect of fear that you need to remember is this.  You can never be completely without fear in new or strange environments.  So how do you move forward?  “Do it with fear.”  This means, recognize that you are afraid but move forward anyway.


What You Believe Is Wrong – Todd Stocker.com

iStock_000004136424XSmallEven if you’re not religious or don’t believe in spirituality, you may have said this about God.  It is one of those Christian cliche’s that is tossed around without a thought:

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

Sounds nice.  An easy placate.  But it is simply not true.

It is an adaptation from a bible verse that says, 

“The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand.”  1 Corinthians 10:13.

If you notice, the verse is talking about temptation, not situation.  The verse is mentioning sin not strength.  God will not allow sinful temptation to engulf you without providing a way to refuse that sin — a way out.  

But what about strength?  What about situations of pain, suffering and even death?  What about the crushing blow of losing a child or the deep pressure of deadly depression.  What about those?  What about the situations that hit you and you feel like you can’t live another day, walk another step, take another breath.  You cry out in your agony and you feel swallowed up by the circumstance?  

And in the darkness of another sleepless night, you scream, “God, you said you won’t give me more than I can handle!”

Did he?  

No.  He never said that.  Temptation, he thwarts, weakness, he allows.  In reality, everyday is a day that you can’t handle.  Every situation threatens loss and every moment could be your last.  He sanctions painful results greater than your strength so that your only hope is him.  There have been, are and will be situations in your life that only God can handle.  In fact, that is the way the phrase should read:

God won’t give you more than HE can handle [tweet that].

He is more powerful than your pain.  He is more ominous than your darkness.  He is the one that bolsters you up if only to make it through another moment.  

So find your joy in trusting God.  The grief may linger, but His strength will carry you through. 

(Thank you to Terry Geurkink for sharing this thought with our staff).


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Don’t Let Fear Box You In

Why do we put God in a box?

box of fearI do it.  You do it.  I think every human being who knows there’s a God, does it.  We try to figure him out.  We try to wrap our finite human understanding around an infinite God. 

I preached on Mark 9 yesterday when Jesus took his friends up a mountain where he was — here comes a churchy word — transfigured.  Basically, this word means to change into something that far more beautiful or spiritual than its original form.  Simply put, Jesus gave his friends a glimpse of who he really was.  (read it here).

Given that visual, Peter said something that, to me, is idiotic but understandable.  “Let’s build shelters for us to stay in?”  So here you have Jesus showing his godly glory and Peter thinks he needs shelter. 

Out of fear, Peter reacted in a human way. Fear causes us to put things in boxes [Tweet that].  Fear makes us want to control.  Fear requires that self-focus override reason.

It’s easy to take the Jesus who loves children.  It’s easy to accept the Jesus who heals the poor and is kind to strangers.  What about the Jesus who brings a sword, whose message breaks up families and who will come to judge all of humanity?  As Christ-followers, we either take all of him or none of him.  Maybe that is why Peter was so afraid.  He realized who Jesus was and became afraid of the life-changing implications.  

When Jesus is moving your life out of its comfort zone, fear appears.  Don’t trust that emotion.  Tell yourself to trust in Jesus.  Tell Jesus you trust in him.  Resist the urge to put him in a box and all will be well, my friends.  All will be well.

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Hope In God’s Story

The_Story.001We are doing a study in Max Lucado’s “The Story.”  In the opening introductory chapter, he introduces this idea that can give you hope, security and perspective on your life.  Here’s the concept.

There are two stories happening in our reality.  The first – the Lower Story – is what we experience day to day.  Our relationships.  Our work.  Our seeing, hearing and knowing.  These all form the Lower Story.  For example.  If you get into a car accident, that event is now part of your Lower Story as you perceive it.  For good or for bad the Lower Story are the events through which we navigate moment by moment in our day.

The second is much more vast.  It is much deeper and encompassing.  It is grander and massive.  It is actually the driver and support of your Lower Story.  It is – as Max Lucado puts it – the Upper Story.  This is God’s story, the grand purpose for the universe.  It moves and breathes and informs a future that has already come into existence but we simply haven’t experienced it yet.

Now here is where the feeling of security comes in.  Without God’s Upper Story, our Lower Story seems aimless and without purpose.  A victory in life is simply one’s own achievement that could even be classified as a shallow cause-and-effect.  An illness is simply another indication that our world is broken.

However, when we remember that God’s Upper Story is what is really active in life, we know that what happens to us in our Lower Story is not the final word.  We know that all things are working out toward the reality of His Upper Story.

So how does that give comfort?  When you remember that there is a “bigger picture” (an Upper Story), then setbacks, trials and hardships do not or should not take all of our focus.  When death happens, when sickness occurs, when pain and struggle threaten to overwhelm, then our realization of God’s Upper Story helps you put the momentary events into a correct perspective.

God has a purpose for you.  It is already a reality you are simply experiencing the unfolding of it day-to-day.  Trust in Him and he’ll reveal His Upper Story.



Lesson from the Labyrinth

labyrinthIt was the first warm day in quite sometime.  Cloudless.  Sun-filled.  A beautiful spring day in Wisconsin.  I arrived at my meeting early and drove to the empty back parking lot of First Presbyterian Church in Hudson.  Maybe it was because I normally ran right into the church, but today, being early, I notice a small white-on-black lettered sign reading “Prayer Labyrinth.”  So I walked in.

(By the way, a Prayer Labyrinth is a mazed pathway leading to a center point on which you offer prayers and spend time with God.)

As I strolled through the brick-lined gravel path, noticing the tall quiet trees that bordered the Labyrinth, I sensed that I was learning what it meant to trust.  You see, occasionally the path would turn to the left and head in a new direction.  Simply follow I thought. On the other side of the large circle-maze it would turn to the right and guide me elsewhere.  Simply follow.  Sometimes it even moved me back and away from where I thought it should go. Simply follow and trust rang in my mind.

But that’s how God wants us to walk with Him. He has us going to the left and sometimes to the right. He has us going forward and sometimes moving back. But ultimately we end where He would want us to end. Jeremiah 29:11‘s original language says that He brings us to an expected end – an end that He has determined and one that fulfills His purpose for our lives.

Ultimately, I emptied out in the middle, sat on the bench and thanked God for the lesson.  The lesson from the Labyrinth is to just walk with Him.  One foot forward.  Simply following.  Authentically trusting.  And praying all the way.




Sonora Dodd was inspired by the selflessness of her father. So much so that she held the first FATHER’S DAY celebration on June 19, 1910, in Spokane, Washington. Her novel idea of honoring fathers eventually spread. Finally, in 1966, then President of the U.S. Lyndon Johnson officially proclaimed the third Sunday of June as Father’s Day.

As Dad’s, we hope that we are helping our children and not hurting them in some hidden way. Here are 6 techniques to becoming a better Father.

Focus your own life on the Lord.
Everything begins and ends with this – Everything! Col. 3:1 (GW) says, “Since you were brought back to life with Christ, focus on the things that are above—where Christ holds the highest position.”

Adore your spouse.
Ephesians. 5:25 (NIV) says, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her”

Someone once said “The greatest gift of man can give his children is to love his wife” I believe this to be true. This is the greatest single gift you can give your children is to love your wife. Always ask yourself this question “What am I my teaching my children when they see how I’m treating my wife?” Husbands do you adore your spouse?

Train your child.
You may have heard this verse: “Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6 (NJB)

There are 2 commands that God tells us in this verse on parenting:

  • First, we are to “Train” which literally means ‘fill the hand‘. Give them something that they can apply in their life. Let them know you love them, verbally and they will carry that in their ‘hand’ the rest of their lives. What should I train him in? Primarily, we as Dads are to train them in the knowledge of the Lord!
  • Second, we are to train them how to live. Loving correction and discipline produces health and balance. Proverbs 23:13 (NIV) “Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you punish him with the rod, he will not die.”

Hold your child.
A gentle hug communicates safety, acceptance and love. Jesus did this in Mark 10:16 (NIV) “And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them.”

Express your love.
There is a current Verizon commercial with a Father and Son buying phones but their spoken words, while brief, communicates so much (SEE THE VIDEO HERE).

1 Corinthians 13:4-8 (CEV) says, “Love is kind and patient,never jealous, boastful, proud, or rude.Love isn’t selfish or quick tempered.It doesn’t keep a record of wrongs that others do. Love rejoices in the truth, but not in evil. Love is always supportive,loyal, hopeful, and trusting. Love never fails!


Represent Jesus to your children. Dad, did you know that the picture your children have of you is a similar picture that they have of Jesus! It’s true! The way you treat your young child translates, for them, “This is how God will treat me!”
That’s why Paul in his letter to the Corinthians was so careful yet firm on telling them – follow me! As I follow Christ!
“For even if you had ten thousand others to teach you about Christ, you have only one spiritual father. For I became your father in Christ Jesus when I preached the Good News to you. So I ask you to follow my example and do as I do.” 1 Cor. 4:15-16 (NLT)

None of us are perfect, nor will we be. But the adventure called “Fatherhood” is one that I’m glad was well represented in my life and I pray that I’m always becoming a better Father.

Happy Father’s Day!

Question: What are some great things your own dad has done in your life? Write a reply below …


Renewed Hope – Devoted Trust

Wow!  I just returned from facilitating a workshop for Concordia Lutheran High School in Houston.  Staff of about 50 attended and the goal was to get rejuvenated for the new 2008-09 school year.  We used their yearly theme “Renewed Hope – Devoted Trust” based on Titus 3:3-8 as our outline for the day.  Lots of great discussion happened.  We looked at the generation of students we teach (called the Mosaic generation), learned what S.O.A.P journaling is (see enewhope.org),  and at the end, we wrote a statement that we could look back on and be encouraged. 


What I really loved about meeting this group of ministers was their sold out passion for building a solid academic and spiritual foundation for students.  Everyone I met, while different, shared the same focus and love for Jesus and their school.


God is at work, y’all.  He’s doing great things in our schools.  Remember to celebrate the lives He’s changed!