Category | Object Lessons

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The beginning of the year is often the time when people set new goals and priorities for the year ahead. This lesson is adapted from an object lesson on priorities in our Creative Object Lessons ebook.

You can find this as an illustration here.

An Object Lesson

What You Need

  • Marker than can write on plastic
  • Transparent plastic or glass jar
  • Ping pong balls (or golf balls)
  • Bag of rice
  • Two small plastic bags – You can use more but I prefer two.
  • Large sheet of paper, newspaper classified ads, or whiteboard

Advance Preparation

  1. Place as many ping pong balls in the jar as will fit
  2. Add as much rise as possible to fill the rest of the space
  3. Empty the jar and place the rice into the plastic bags
  4. Discard the ping balls that were not in the jar so that you only have those that fit.

What to Do

  1. Ask the youth to list goals people might have for this new year?
  2. List them on the newsprint or whiteboard so that all can see.
  3. Pass out the ping pong balls and ask the students to write one of the goals for the new year on each Ping Pong Ball
  4. Ask the students to choose three other things to write on the bags of rice.
  5. Pour the bags of rice into the jar, reading each goals as you pour its contents into the jar.
  6. Then do the same with each of the ping pong balls. These will not all fit.
  7. Explain that if you do the small things first, you won’t have time for the important things.
  8. Ask youth to decide which things on the ping pong balls are the most important and place them in the jar first. You might need to replace the labels on some of them or replace them with the leftover ping pong balls.
  9. Then when you put the items for the rice in they will all fall into place and everything will fit.



When it comes to setting goals, I sometimes hear two different opinions. I’ve heard people say we should not plan but should be led by the spirit in everything we do. I’ve heard others say that God gave us brains and wisdom to plan in advance and we must make concrete plans. The truth lies somewhere in the middle. We must make plans and be wise with our time, but at the same time our plans must not be so fixed that there is no room for God to add, change, or interrupt those plans for his will to be done.

1. Men of God make plans based upon the wisdom they have

  • Proverbs 6 affirms wise planning and working toward those plans.
  • Proverbs 13:16 “A wise man thinks ahead; a fool doesn’t and even brags about it!”
  • Proverbs 15:22 “Plans go wrong with too few counselors; many counselors bring success.”
  • Proverbs 21:5 “The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty.”
  • Paul made plans (see Acts 15:36; Rom 1:13)
  • The disciples made plans (Acts 6:1-3)
  • Jesus made plans (Matt 10:5-15; 16:21; 26:17-19)
  • Jesus used plans as an illustration in his teachings (Luke 14:28-31)

2. God’s Word must be a guide for our plans (Psalm 119:9-16; Matthew 4:4; 2 Timothy 3:15-17; Matthew 6:33-34)

3. Our plans must be sensitive and allow room for God to change those plans. (See Acts 16:6-7) James 4:13-14 reminds us that our plans are secondary to God’s. “Instead, you ought to to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we shall live and also do this or that'” (v. 15). Proverbs 16:9, “In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps.”


Ultimately, God has one primary goal for each of our lives – to become more like Christ – Romans 8:29; 2 Corinthians 3:18; Galatians 4:19; Ephesians 4:13; 22-24

  • What are some of the goals we should have as Christians in this regard.
  • What goals can we set that will help us to become more and more Christlike?


  • What are some of your personal goals?
  • If you accomplish each goal, how will Jesus Christ be glorified?
  • How does each goal help you and/or others become more like Jesus Christ?


Matthew 6:33

“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”

MORE IDEAS? See “Creative Object Lessons”

200 page e-book that explains everything you need to know when planning your very own object lessons. It contains 90 fully developed object lesson ideas and another 200 object lesson starter ideas based on Biblical idioms and Names / Descriptions of God.

Learn More…

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