Life’s Big Rocks

by Pastor Kevin Sadler

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“One day [an] expert was speaking to a group of business students and… he said, ‘Okay, time for a quiz.’ Then he pulled out a one gallon, wide-mouthed mason jar and set it on a table in front of him. Then he produced about a dozen fist-sized rocks and carefully placed them, one at a time, into the jar.

“When the jar was filled to the top and no more rocks would fit inside, he asked, ‘Is this jar full?’ Everyone in the class said, ‘Yes.’ Then he said, ‘Really?’ He reached under the table and pulled out a bucket of gravel. Then he dumped some gravel in and shook the jar causing pieces of gravel to work themselves down into the spaces between the big rocks.

“Then he smiled and asked the group once more, ‘Is the jar full?’ By this time the class was onto him. ‘Probably not,’ one of them answered. ‘Good!’ he replied. And he reached under the table and brought out a bucket of sand. He started dumping the sand in and it went into all the spaces left between the rocks and the gravel. Once more he asked the question, ‘Is this jar full?’

“‘No!’ the class shouted. Once again he said, ‘Good!’ Then he grabbed a pitcher of water and began to pour it in until the jar was filled to the brim. Then he looked up at the class and asked, ‘What is the point of this illustration?’

“One eager [student] raised his hand and said, ‘The point is, no matter how full your schedule is, if you try really hard, you can always fit some more things into it!’ ‘No,’ the speaker replied, ‘that’s not the point. 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.’”1

As you look ahead at the next year, what are the big rocks of your life? What are your priorities?

Many make New Year’s resolutions. Most resolutions are ways to improve health, lifestyle, diet, or finances. But what about our walk with the Lord? Do we have the priorities of the Apostle Paul?

“That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His  sufferings, being made conformable unto His death” (Phil. 3:10).

Will we make it a priority this year to put the Lord first and to know Him more—each day drawing nearer to our Savior, spending time with Him in prayer, growing in His Word rightly divided, and sharing Him with others? We need to put these “big rocks” in our lives first or we’ll never get them in at all.

1. Stephen R. Covey, accessed November 30, 2019,

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