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The Jar

When things in your life seem almost too much to handle, when 24 hours in a day are not enough, remember this story about a jar and a cup of coffee.

A professor at a Christian college stood before his philosophy class with several items in front of him.

When the class began, he picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls. He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.

The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly and the pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls. He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They nodded their approval.

The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled in the gaps. He asked once more if the jar was full and the students responded with a unanimous “yes.”

The professor then produced a cup of coffee from under the table and poured the contents into the jar, effectively filling the empty space between the sand. The students laughed.

“Now,” said the professor, as the laughter subsided, “I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life.

“The golf balls are the important things–God, your family, your children, your health and your friends–things that if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full.

“The pebbles are the material things that you think matter and we seem to be so consumed by, like your job, your house and your car.

“The sand is everything else–the small stuff.

“If you put the sand into the jar first,” he continued, “there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls.

“The same goes for life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that are important to you.

“Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Have a close walk with God. Play with your children. Take your partner out to dinner. There will always be time to clean the house and fix the disposal.

“Take care of the golf balls first–the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.”

One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the coffee represented.

The professor smiled. “I’m glad you asked. It just goes to show you that no matter how full your life may seem, there’s always room for a cup of coffee with a friend.”


  1. This story tells The Truth about that GOD is First and the Most Important Person in Your Life. It does not matter how full is Your life is. God works all things out.

  2. Rev. Robert Pelinka

    God equals a golf ball in a JAR. There is no correlation between the Jar and how a person should live his or her life. When we surrender our life to Christ we live every minute of every day for Him and his way that is designed in the Bible. I’m sorry but it is time we all place God above all things, and especially above a JAR full of golf balls. What about a Jar full of prayers and deeds of servanthood.?

    sorry, bob

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