Put the Big Rocks in First
The kids watched attentively, wondering what would happen next.
He needed to put the big rocks in first.
My husband James was doing an object lesson at our elementary school Bible club. He arranges ingredients on a table: sugar, sand, marbles, ping pong balls, a few big rocks, and an empty peanut butter jar.
He asks the kids with great fanfare, “Do you think I can fit all these items into the peanut butter jar?” He begins with the sugar, sand, and marbles. By the time the ping pong balls are added, there is no room in the jar for the rocks.
He pours everything out and this time, he begins with the big rocks first, followed by the ping pong balls. Then he pours in the marbles, sugar, and sand.
Now it all fits!
He explains to the kids when you put the big rocks in first – things like praying, reading the Bible, doing chores, finishing homework – then you have time for the extras in life like riding bikes or watching movies.
Can you relate? Maybe you’ve felt lately like you were trying to shove 48 hours of work into a 24-hour day. All your tasks don’t fit into a jar – they overflow onto the table and through the hallways!
As moms, we need to put the big rocks in first. We can live putting out fires and responding to texts which seem urgent at the time, while ignoring what’s truly important. Slowly, we can grow complacent towards Bible reading. We place our children ahead of our spouses. We let our health slip.
What does every flight attendant instruct us to do? Put on your oxygen mask before assisting others. Mom, don’t ignore that dangling oxygen mask in front of you. Take care of yourself so you can care for your family. Making healthy choices isn’t selfish.
Notice the motivation. You don’t take care of yourself to escape or look gorgeous for your selfie. You do it to serve others. Rather it is wisdom that says I can’t keep mistreating the goose that’s laying the golden eggs (yes mom, you’re the goose!).
Putting the big rocks in first involves determining what’s really important as a mom. Legendary basketball coach John Wooden says,
“Take a moment and draw a circle around the following personal characteristics that you possess: confidence, poise, imagination, initiative, tolerance, humility, love, cheerfulness, faith, enthusiasm, courage, honesty, serenity.”
Go ahead. Allow your mind to circle the characteristics you possess and underline the ones you want to increase in your mom life. These are the big rocks.
The New King James version of Matthew 6:33 says it so beautifully:
Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.
Shifting priorities and making time for important activities like prayer, Bible reading, quality family play and conversation can be overwhelming. Like working on a huge 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle, you may feel utterly lost and think your efforts are pointless. But how do you put a puzzle together? One piece at a time, starting with the easiest first. Don’t try to become more patient, scream less, memorize Scripture, finish projects you start, and start a neighborhood Bible study all in one morning. Start with one improvement at a time and then build on your success.
One big rock at a time.