When You Put the Big Rocks First

time, priorities, important, fun, entertainment, prioritize

time, priorities, important, fun, entertainment, prioritizeLast Sunday, my son led a an object lesson demonstration for his Sunday school group.  The illustration showed the importance of putting God first in our lives and, also, what happens when we get our priorities out of order.  I thought it was a great point that could be beneficial for everyone to put into practice.

The demonstration went something like this:

  • A clear glass vase represents our lives.
  • Several big rocks represent the most important things in our lives.  Like prayer, Bible reading, daily devotions, and faithfulness to church.
  • The smaller rocks represent other important things like family, work, school, chores and working in the church.
  • The sand represents the fun and entertaining things in life.  Like hanging out with friends, reading, vacations, games, play dates, social media and whatever else you find entertaining.

When the sand (entertainment) was poured into the vase first and the small rocks were added next, there was not enough room for all the big rocks to fit in.  Some of the big rocks had to be left out.

When the order was reversed and the big rocks were added first, then the small rocks, it was interesting to see that every last bit of sand also fit in the vase.  It filtered in and around everything else and nothing at all was left out.

When we get our priorities in the correct order, we get to have a walk with God, do fulfilling work, and enjoy all the fun things in life.

The illustration was great for a Sunday school object lesson.  And it fit right in with the story of Mary and Martha.  However, it’s not an original idea.

Stephen Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, demonstrated this same lesson in regards to time management.  Truthfully, it applies to every area of our lives, not just our Christian walk.  When you broaden or narrow the scope, the lesson of Big Rocks First still applies.

In life, our relationships are the big rocks.  They are the what we should be putting our main focus on.  Everything else we do in life will always come back to the people we do it for, rely on, and get our support from.  We want to make sure we are putting our relationships with our spouse, children, friends, and God before things like work, social clubs, school and business.  These are important and even urgent responsibilities, however, they mean nothing if our relationships suffer.

In our business, the content we are creating, the value we offer and our customers needs are the big rocks.  Before we spend time on marketing, advertising, and building a social media platform, we need to have a foundation of those big rocks.  Customers coming into your store or traffic coming to your blog don’t mean anything if you don’t have something there of value to offer them.  They won’t stay long and your efforts will be wasted.

When you get your priorities out of order and start with the sand or even the smaller rocks, it doesn’t make the big rocks go away.  They are still there, begging for your time.  It causes mental clutter and feelings of guilt for leaving something important undone.

Big rocks are used to build strong foundations.  You can’t build a business without a product, you can’t have a quality marriage without communication, and you can’t have a walk with God without prayer.  Those are all part of the foundation of the life you are trying to build.  Without a strong foundation, all the important and entertaining things you do will erode.  You will be left with a life of dissatisfaction and regret.

When you start to prioritize your life or your day, always remember Big Rocks First.  Because when you get the big things out of the way, the other stuff will just fall into place.  You’ll get to enjoy the fun things in life, be fulfilled, and have a clear conscience.


What are the Big Rocks your are needing to put first right now?  How can you make changes in your current schedule to make sure a strong foundation is built?  Share your comments here.

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