100 Moral Stories
THE MAYONNAISE AND THE COFFEE When things in your life seem almost too much to handle, when 24 hours in a day are
not enough, remember the mayonnaise Jar...and the Coffee...
A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items
in front of him. When the class began, wordlessly, he picked up a
very large and empty mayonnaise Jar and proceeded to fill it with
He then asked the students if the Jar was full. They agreed that it was. So the professor then picked
up a box of pebbles and poured them into the Jar. He shook the Jar lightly. The pebbles rolled into
the open areas between the golf balls. He then asked the students again if the Jar was full. They
agreed it was.
The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the Jar. Of course, the sand filled up
everything else. He asked once more if the Jar was full. The students responded unanimous “yes.”
The professor then produced two cups of Coffee from under the table and poured the entire
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, your God, family, your children, your
health, your friends, and your favorite passions 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 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. Pay attention to the things that are critical to
your happiness. Play with your children. 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 couple of cups of Coffee with a friends.”
A tale is told about a small town that had historically been “dry,”
(no alcohol sold) but then a local businessman decided to build a
tavern. A group of Christians from a local church were concerned
and planned an all-night prayer meeting to ask God to intervene.
It just so happened that shortly thereafter lightning struck the bar and it burned to the ground.
The owner of the bar sued the church, claiming that the prayers of the congregation were
responsible, but the church hired a lawyer to argue in court that they were not responsible.
The presiding judge, after his initial review of the case, stated that “No matter how this case comes
out, one thing is clear. The tavern owner believes in prayer and the Christians do not.”