The Mayonnaise Jar

By Calvin Knipschild

Photo by Dreamstime

I do not enjoy reading but fortunately for me, my wife Linda, and my daughter, DeAnne, do. They both know I love illustrations and when they find good ones, they always share them with me.

DeAnne sent me the following story and I fell in love with what it says. I share it now with you because in the hustle and bustle of everyday life, we all need to remember its message.

A professor stood before his philosophy class with several items before him on the table. When the class began, and without a word, he picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with gold balls. He then asked the students if the jar was full. They all agreed that it was.

The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and proceeded to pour 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. Once again they all agreed it was.

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

The professor then produced a couple of glasses of lemonade from under the desk and poured them into the jar effectively filling the empty space between the sand. The students broke into laughter.

It All Adds Up

“Now,” said the professor, as the laughter subsided, “I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are important – God, family, friends, health – things that if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full. The pebbles are the other things that matter in your life like your job, your home, your car, etc. 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 your life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never have room for things that are really important to you. Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Spend personal time with God, talk with your children, take your husband/wife to dinner. There will always be time to clean the house and mow the lawn. “Take care of the golf balls first, the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.”

A student raised his hand and inquired. “What does the lemonade represent?” The professor smiled. “I’m glad you asked. It just goes to show you that no matter how full your life may seem, there is always room for a couple of glasses of lemonade with a friend.”