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Big stones first

May 2002 | by Ken Wimer

One day an expert in time-management was speaking to a group of business students, and used the following illustration to drive home a point.

He pulled out a one-gallon, wide-mouthed Mason jar and set it on the table in front of him. Then he produced about a dozen fist-sized stones and carefully placed them, one at a time, into the jar.

When the jar was filled to the top and no more stones would fit inside, he asked: ‘Is this jar full?’ Everyone in the class responded: ‘Yes’.

Then he dumped some gravel in and shook the jar, causing pieces of gravel to work their way down into the spaces between the big stones. He asked the group again: ‘Is the jar full?’

Catching on

By this time the class was on to him. ‘Probably not’, one of them answered. ‘Good!’, replied the teacher.

Then he reached under the table and brought out a bucket of sand. He started pouring the sand into the jar, where it went into all of the spaces left.

Once more he asked the question. ‘Is this jar full?’ ‘No!’ the class shouted. Once again he said, ‘Good’.

Then he took a pitcher of water and began to pour it in until the jar was filled to the brim.

First things first

What is the point of this illustration? Remember to put the big stones in first, or you may never get them in at all!

So much of life is spent with the little stuff (the gravel sand and water) that the important things are often squeezed out. What are these important things?

For the Christian, at least, they are such things as hearing the Word of God; spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ; praying in the Spirit; worshipping God with his people; giving to the glory of God; fellowshipping in the gospel; and caring for our natural and spiritual families.

By making these ‘big stones’ your priority, you will find that the ‘sand and gravel’ of less significant things will fit in just about anywhere.

Ask yourself: ‘What are the big stones God has given me to use?’ Then, put these in the jar first.

‘See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is’ (Ephesians 5:15-17