Don's Weekly Columns

Put the Big Rocks in First!!

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A teacher wanted to give his students an important lesson for life. One day he brought a large Mason jar to class, along with some fist sized rocks. As the students watched, he placed the rocks, one by one, into the jar until it appeared full. He then asked the students, “Is the jar full?” The students said “Yes!” The teacher said “Really?” He then pulled a can of gravel from under the table, and began to slowly pour it into the jar as well. As he shook the jar, the pebbles filled in the empty spaces until he had poured almost the entire can of gravel into the jar. The teacher then asked, “Is the jar full now?” The class was onto him by now, and said, “No!” “Good,” responded the teacher, and then took out a can of sand, and began to pour it into the jar as he shook it. The sand found the empty spaces, and began to fill the jar even more. The teacher asked once again, “Is the jar full?” The students were caught up in the lesson by now, and said “No!” “Great!” the teacher responded, and took a bottle of water, and began to slowly pour it into the jar. When the water had completely filled all the spaces and was at the brim of the jar, the teacher asked once again, “Is the jar full now?” The students could now say “Yes!”

The teacher then asked the students, “What is the moral of this illustration?” One student said, “No matter how full your schedule is, you can always find room to do more!” The teacher said, “No, that is not the point.” The teacher then asked ,“What would have happened if I had reversed the order of filling the jar?” One student responded, “You would have had a big mess!”

The teacher then explained: “If you don’t put the big rocks in first, you will never get them in at all. It is an illustration about priorities in life.”

The ingredients in the jar represent the things in our lives. The big rocks represent the important things, the pebbles, the sand, and water represent the less important things. The trouble with most of us is that we try to put the wrong things into the jar first! Our priorities are wrong.

God calls us to make Him, and His service first. He challenges us to realize that if we put personal selfishness ahead of him, we will forfeit everything (Matthew 10:28). Furthermore, if we get our priorities wrong, just like putting the wrong things in the jar first, we wind up with a mess on our hands! The reason we wind up unhappy in this life is because we do not get our priorities right. God has made us in such a way that our happiness is not found in seeking selfish goals. Our genuine happiness, contentment, and confidence is found in serving the Living God!

Which rocks are you putting in the jar first? Is your life a mess? Come visit us at the Ardmore church of Christ, and learn how to put the big rocks in first!