two glass jars side by side, filled with sand, pebbles and rocks

First Things First!

In Articles, Views by Peter WrefordLeave a Comment

Maximising Effectiveness


A business speaker was once scheduled to address a gathering of high-powered executives on maximising their effectiveness.

The buzz of conversation ebbed away as he strode to the front of the venue but, rather than introduce himself, he reached behind the podium and brought out a large glass vase with a narrow neck.

Setting it on a table, he reached behind the podium again and produced a bucket full of fist-sized rocks. Carefully he began to fill the vase, slipping the rocks one by one through the narrow neck. Still he hadn’t said a word, but he certainly had the attention of his audience.

When the vase was full, he produced a second bucket, this time filled with smaller stones, and proceeded to add them to the vase, shaking it to allow them to filter down and fill in the gaps.

The Vase Became Truly Full

When the vase was full a second time, he produced a bucket of sand and started the process again, shaking the vase to allow the sand to fill every empty space. Then, when it seemed that nothing more could be added, he took a jug of water and poured it in, allowing the air to escape as the vase became truly full.

Only then did he address his audience.

“What lesson do you think I have just demonstrated?” he asked. There were many responses.

“The neck is the limiting factor,” said one. “You can’t get anything into the vase bigger than the neck will allow.”

“No matter how full your life might seem to be,” said another, “you can always pack something more in.”

Run To God Early

“Those are both good answers,” said the speaker, “but the lesson that I have actually demonstrated is this: if you want to put big rocks into the vase, you have to put them in first.”

And so it is with our lives. If you want to get the big things into your day, you have to put them in first. If you don’t, little things start taking up all the space, and very soon you’ll find there simply isn’t room.

What am I talking about here? Things like prayer and reading your Bible. Things like reinforcing your belief that God is love, and with him all things are possible. Things like loving your spouse and your children if you have them. Things like looking after your body and taking time to be grateful. And – who’d believe you’d have to say this in our pleasure-filled world – taking time to simply have fun.

If you don’t build these things in early, chances are you’ll drop into bed at night wondering how you never found the time. As one wise man put it: “Don’t prioritise your schedule; schedule your priorities!”

One of the kindest acts of God in creation was to separate time into days. No matter how lousy yesterday might have been, today offers a bright new opportunity. And in salvation that principle is extended still further. In God we can find grace to help in time of need. Let’s run to him early.

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