jar of rocks time management prioritiesA time management expert once used a simple illustration to drive home the point he was making about priorities. He held up a large glass jar for his audience to see, and proceeded to fill the jar with rocks around two inches in diameter. He asked the class, “Is the jar full?” They agreed that the jar was full.

The lecturer then picked up a bag of small pebbles and poured it into the jar, shaking it so that the pebbles fell into all the cracks. He asked the class the same question: “Is the jar full?” Again, with a chuckle, they responded, “Yes.”

Finally, the teacher produced a bag of fine sand. Pouring it into the jar he again asked, “Is the jar full?”  “Ok, “ thought the students, “Now the jar is full.” The time management expert explained: “The rocks are your priorities. They fit into your life first. If everything else in your life is gone, it would still be meaningful. Once your priorities are in place, you can begin fitting other things into your life easily. It will all fall into place.”

As I thought about this illustration, I wondered, “Where would God fit into this picture in a Christian’s life?”  Many Christians relegate their walk with the Lord to the priority of sand, or perhaps a pebble at best. A few Christians might consider their relationship with Him be “one of the rocks, perhaps the largest.”  Perhaps you have wondered how you can even tell when Christ is in the right place in your life. “Does my walk with the Lord have to take up more time than anything else for Him to be in ‘first place’?”

As we saw in the previous post, God requires more than a nod at the beginning of the day. It is not enough to go to church on Sunday or to give him our tithe. God demands our devotion to be all consuming. Wow, that’s hard!

You see, God has to be more than just a priority, a slot in your daily regimen, something that you fit into your life. God is your life! Whether you are a plumber or a preacher, everything you do should be part of your consuming love for God and desire to glorify Him.

God should be the jar.

What this implies is that even the smallest aspects of our lives must fit into this framework of a life of love for God. That means, when I plan my day, I’m consciously thinking about how my activities fit into the overall scheme and purpose of my life. When I have a moment of down time, I must pause to consider what leisurely activity or mode of relaxation would best fit into my framework of life. I can’t just turn on the TV or surf the internet without thinking about it. There may be plenty of legitimate purposes for doing all of those things, but we must be very careful not divide our lives into “my stuff” and “God’s stuff”. Everything must be integrated into a life of love for God.

Perhaps this sounds very difficult and/or time consuming. It will require an initial investment of effort. We may not be used to thinking intentionally about our lives, but it is crucial that we do so if we are going to grow spiritually. Be encouraged: with practice it gets easier. Once this mindset has been developed and becomes the habitual basis for the way we process life, it becomes easier and almost subconscious. The key is to start by developing a clear plan for developing an integrated, God-centered life.

That’s where we’ll turn next time.

Read other posts in the Intentional Spiritual Growth series.