My Jar Overflows | UMC YoungPeople
Connecting young people and their adult leaders to God, the church, and the world
August 2018

My Jar Overflows

By Jeremy Steele

Being filled with the Holy Spirit is a major theme in the New Testament. This is a highly visual metaphor that people see a lot, yet don’t reflect on how it can help us understand what God asks of us when we open ourselves up to being filled with the Holy Spirit.

Have two large mason jars. Leave one empty, and in another put something that can float that is smaller than the opening at the top (a small rubber duck works great).

Start by pouring water from a pitcher into the completely empty jar until the jar is full but not overflowing. Then ask each student to hypothesize how many drops of water it will take to make the jar overflow. After everyone offers their guess, pass an eye dropper around the room allowing each student to add a single drop to the jar until it overflows. Then, repeat this process with the other jar.

Read Ephesians 5:15-20

Debrief with these questions:

  • What about the empty jar seemed to echo the scripture we just read?
  • How can it relate to being filled with the Holy Spirit?
  • How can it relate to giving thanks at all times?
  • Now think about the jar with the [rubber duck] in it. What might that [rubber duck} symbolize?
  • What does that make you think of when you think about this scripture’s call to be careful how you live?
When he's not playing with his four children with his wonderful wife, Jeremy is the associate pastor at Los Altos UMC in Los Altos, CA. Jeremy has spent over twenty years working in youth and children's ministry and continues to train children and youth workers as well as writing and speaking extensively in that field. His most recent book is the "All the Best Questions." You can find a list of all his books, articles, and resources for churches at