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First Things First

But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness,
and all these things shall be added to you.
Matthew 6:33

All of us have 24 hours a day, no more and no less. How well we manage our lives depend largely on how well we manage our time and priorities.

There was a professor who did this experiment with his students. One day, he brought some unusual objects into his class. As the lecture began, without uttering a single word, he picked up a very large but empty transparent jar, and placed it on the top of his table. He began to fill the jar with some big pebbles. As the pebbles reached the brim of the jar, he asked his students whether the jar was full. They answered, "Yes, it is full!"

The professor simply smiled at their answer. He then picked up a plastic bag of small pebbles, and poured them into the same jar. As he poured, he shook the jar gently. All the small pebbles filled the gaps between the larger pebbles. He again asked the same question, "Is the jar full now?" His students were wiser this time, and they answered, "Maybe."

The professor laughed. He then picked up a plastic bag of sand, and then poured all the contents into the same jar. As he poured, he shook the jar a little. The sand filled up every gap between the big and small pebbles. He then asked his class whether the jar was full this time around. His students replied, "Yes!"

The professor then took a kettle, which he had hidden under the table. He began to pour its entire contents into the jar. As he did so, there was a fragrant aroma of freshly brewed coffee filling the air! The whole kettle of coffee filled up all the empty spaces left by the big pebbles, small pebbles and the sand! The students burst out laughing.

As their laughter subsided, the professor told them, "This experiment is about first things first. This jar represents our life. The big pebbles are the most important things in our lives such as God, our families, our children, our health, our friends and our ministries. The smaller pebbles are the important things in our lives such as our jobs, our houses and our cars. The sand represents the less important things in our lives such as watching TV, window-shopping and gossiping."

"If we put the sand into the jar first," he continued, "there will be no room for the small pebbles and the big pebbles. This is the same in our lives. If we spend all our time and energy on the less important things, we will never have the time to do the more important things in our lives. But if we do the first things first, there will always be room and time for all the things in our lives - the most important things, the important things and also the less important things! This is setting our priorities right!"

As the professor concluded his wonderful speech, one of his students raised his hand and asked, "Sir, what about the coffee?"

The professor smiled, "I'm glad you asked. It tells us that no matter how full and busy our lives may seem to be, there is always room for a few cups of coffee with a friend."

PS & PTL: The Kopitiam is open 24 hours daily in Singapore.

Edited On

1 April 2005