Big Rocks and Pebbles

“The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities” – Stephen Covey

There’s a game that folks will play at management training seminars. A team is given a mason jar (or some suitable container) and three distinct piles of rocks. The first pile has a few large rocks (small enough to fit in the jar though). The second pile has pebbles and the third has sand. The task? To put all the rocks and sand into the mason jar.

It’s a tight squeeze. There’s only one way to pull it off. First, you put in the big rocks. Then, you fill in with the pebbles, shaking the jar to get them to settle in. Finally, you dump in the sand, again shaking to get it to settle. If you start with the sand or pebbles, there will not be room to fit the big rocks.

The allegory is simple enough that even managers can understand it. Do the big tasks, the important things first. These will rarely line up into full day-long increments and you’ll have hours here and there to pick up some of the middle tasks. Then you put the sand in wherever you find snatches of time.

I tend to view the issues of the day that way as well. Finding time to focus on little things is difficult when the big things are starring me in the face and I have a chance to work on them.

I caught a commercial the other day for a water filter. The commercial lamented the massive number of plastic water bottles used in the US on an annual basis – indicating that they could wrap around the world if laid end to end. They then went on to encourage the viewer to help solve the problem by using a water filter instead, preferably their water filter.

As commercials go it was a well done piece. It made a nice argument and offered a chance for audience participation in what is, arguably, a useful endeavor. And yet, I just don’t care.

The average birth length of a human child is 51.5 cm. Since 1973 we have killed, via abortion, roughly 50,000,000 babies – in the United States alone. That’s 25,750 km of babies laid head to toe. That line of corpses could stretch from my house in Maryland to Los Angeles, CA, back to my house, back to LA, to my house, to LA, to my house, and to LA again. You could stretch those babies from Anchorage Alaska to Copiapo Chile (where they just rescued those 33 miners) and back again – and still have 1550 km of babies left over.

I could care less about water bottles. Sure, it’s not an unimportant issue – but it doesn’t even register on my radar screen.

Today, at campuses all across the country, pro-life students joined in a protest of silent solidarity. (“Can you lose your voice for a day for those who will never have one?”) I know students who indicated (without talking, mind you) that there was significant participation.

As with so many things, we have hope that the next generation will address important issues if we cannot. It will be the next generation that finally throws back the tide of murder, slaughter, genocide and once again gives life to the oppressed. Perhaps it will be the next generation that restores freedom to the country, now in the death grip of progressivism, which could just as easily have the tag line “spending their future for our comfort.” Perhaps it will be the next generation that turns away from secular humanism and back to faith in God. Believe it or not, the signs are actually pretty good that they will.

As for me, I’ll stick with the big rocks. Yes, there are some important issues that will get left on the ground, or may have to be addressed later. But if we got the big ones handled, we’d have a shot at making the rest work out.

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