Priority Jar

You’ve probably seen the illustration. A jar, which represents your life, is filled with various objects.

In the first example, it is filled with l
arge rocks which represent the most important things in your life – perhaps faith, family, or friends. Then smaller pebbles are poured in to fill the gaps, representing important but secondary things like work or school. Finally sand and water, which represent the trivial things of life or perhaps our possessions, are poured into all the crevices.

In the second example the same jar is filled first with the sand, then the pebbles, then the large rocks – except only a few, if any, of the large rocks manage to fit into the jar. The point is then made that only when you prioritize the most important things will there be room for the rest.

Only there isn’t.

See the subtle and misleading expectation that the illustration usually creates is that there is a way for it ALL to fit in the jar if you just get your priorities right. You can have it all. But that’s actually a lie. Life isn’t like that and certainly not the Christian life – at least on this side of the grave.

Jesus once said, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23). Elsewhere he said things like, “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money” (Matthew 6:24) and “So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:13).

Putting the biggest rock in first will mean saying “No” to a whole lot of sand, quite a few pebbles, and sometimes even a few rocks. They will not fit and in some cases should not fit in the “jar” of your life. This is something we need to be reminded of often because it is the exact opposite of what we hear from the world.

The good news is that there is more joy to be found in Jesus Christ that there is in anything else this world has to offer!


Keep your eyes on Christ! (Hebrews 12:1-2)