Does it seem to you that life is getting busier and busier? Most of us feel that way, don’t we? Actually, though, there was a scientific study a few years ago that proved otherwise. Two time-management experts studied the daily routines of Americans for thirty years. Their results were shocking. They found out that our leisure time has actually increased by almost five hours per week. I guess that means we really aren’t busier.
Maybe the issue is HOW we spend our time instead of not having enough time. Think about this comparison. Americans spend about fifty-four minutes per week on religious activities. That would include things like church attendance, prayer, and reading religious books, etc. On the other hand, we average over 35 hours of TV watching every week. Wow, that difference is huge.
A story I read recently grabbed my attention and made me think about how I am spending my time. I hope it will help you think how you’re spending your time, too.
A time management expert was speaking to a group of high-powered business people. He pulled out a one-gallon, wide mouth Mason jar and set it on a table in front of him. Then he produced about a dozen fist-sized rocks and carefully placed them, one at a time, into the jar. When the jar was filled to the top and no more rocks would fit inside, he asked, “Is this jar full?” Everyone in the class agreed that it was.
Then he said, “Do you really think so?” He reached under the table and pulled out a bucket of gravel. He dumped some gravel in the jar and shook it, causing much of the gravel to gradually work down into the spaces between the big rocks.
Then he smiled and asked the group once more, “Is the jar full?” By this time the class was on to him. “Probably not,” one of them said.
“Good!” he replied. He reached under the table and brought out a bucket of sand. He started slowly pouring the sand in until it filled in the spaces left between the rocks and the gravel. Once more he asked the question, “Is this jar full?” “No!” the class shouted. Once again he said, “Good!” Then he grabbed a pitcher of water and began to pour it in until the jar was filled to the brim.
Then he looked up at the class and asked, “What is the point of this illustration?” One eager beaver raised his hand and said, “The point is, no matter how full your schedule is, if you try really hard, you can always fit some more things into it!”
“No,” the speaker replied, “that is not the point! The truth this illustration teaches us is this: If you don’t put the big rocks in first, you’ll never be able to fit them in at all.”
I assume you and I both have neglected some of the most important things in life because we have first filled our time with less important things. I am convinced that this contributes to a lot of our unhappiness. When I focus on the BIG ROCKS in my life, I may not necessarily get more done, but my life definitely has more joy and contentment. You can’t put a price on that.
Knowing that we should put the BIG ROCKS in first doesn’t really help if we aren’t sure what those BIG ROCKS are. The good news is that we CAN know what they are. In order to do that, we must first consult our “Owner’s Manual”–which is the Bible. That makes sense because it was given to us by the One who made us. Who would know better than our Creator what is best for us?
What are those BIG ROCKS we should have in our lives according to the Bible?
The biggest rock we need in our lives is a loving relationship with Jesus. He said: “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). The Psalmist exclaimed: “The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge; my shield and the [strength] of my salvation, my stronghold” (Psalm 18:2).
Once you turn away from your sin and give your heart to Jesus, He becomes your best friend and your faithful provider. Instead of making material things a BIG ROCK that we put in our lives first, we should “Seek first [God’s] kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things [that you need] will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33).
Here are some examples of how we can do that.
Spending time reading the Bible is a BIG ROCK because that is how we learn who God is. That is how we can get to know Him (see Psalm 105:3). Spending time with God in prayer is a BIG ROCK because He deserves our adoration (see Joshua 22:5). Being aware that God is involved in every aspect of our lives, is a BIG ROCK because that is how we learn God’s plan for our lives (see Proverbs 3:5-7). Attending a church that clearly teaches the Bible is a BIG ROCK because that provides much-needed encouragement (see Hebrews 10:23-25).
Take time from your busy schedule and think about what is really most important. Are you doing those things? Are you spending hours in front of the television, instead of learning about the One who gave His life for you? Do you focus on entertainment, like video games, with no thought of the eternal things that will still be important 100 years from now? Perhaps you’ve been telling yourself you’re too busy, but maybe you just haven’t been putting first things first. Put the BIG ROCKS in first.