A Jar of Rocks


I read recently about an expert who was teaching a time management class to a group of students.  He sat a wide-mouth mason jar on the desk and then several fist-sized rocks.  He carefully placed the rocks in the jar until no more would fit.  “Is the jar full?” he asked.


“Yes,” the class replied.


The teacher then produced a container of gravel, which he poured into the jar and shook it down, filling the spaces between the rocks.  “Is it full now?” he asked.


“Probably not,” one student said, catching on.


“Very good,” said the teacher as he took a pitcher of water and poured it into the jar, filling it to the brim.


“What does this teach us about time management?” the teacher asked.


One eager beaver student replied, “It teaches us that no matter how busy our schedules are, we can always do more.”


“No, that’s not it.  The truth this illustration teaches us is:  If you don’t put the big rocks in first, you’ll never get them in at all.”


What are the “big rocks” in your life?  Time with your family?  Personal Bible study?  Developing and using your talents?  Some goal that you want to accomplish?   Whatever those highest priorities for you are, you need to realize that there is no one out there working on them for you.  Unless you put these “big rocks” in your schedule first, you’ll never get them in at all.


Discovering your highest values, then turning those values into goals, and then making those goals a priority in your life is hard, time consuming work.  The questions you must answer for yourself are “struggle” questions like, what do I want to accomplish in life?  At the end of my life, what will I wish I had done?  Whose permission am I waiting for?  What’s really holding me back from going after life with a passion? 


Remember, important things are rarely urgent, and urgent things are rarely important.  Discover what the “big rocks” in your life are and then put them in first.