I listen to Andy Stanley a couple of times a week. He's well-represented on iTunes through his various podcasts. Some of his audio downloads are sermons, some are talks he gives to select groups of people, and some are fantastic leadership podcasts that are practical and applicable the minute you stop listening.
Not only is he a fantastic speaker, but he's a great writer. Perhaps that's because he follows the sage writing advice that simply says to "write like you talk." His conversational style, insightful stories, and practical application that hits you right where you live make this a book that might require you bring two pens because there's so much to underline (you do write in your books don't you? If not, you need to read this).
The Principle of the Path is a book that answers the question: Why am I not where I want to be?
Each and everyone of us is on a certain path; an accumulation of choices, circumstances, and decisions that eventually lead us to the life we have...right now. Like the law of gravity, there are certain principles at work in our life. We don't need to discover them, we only need to realize that they are there and then operate accordingly. That's the way it is with this principle - the principle of the path:
Direction - not intention - determines our destination.
That's the punchline. But you've got to read the book to unpack it and understand how this principle impacts our lives...every...single...day.
One of the things I really enjoyed about this book is how Andy Stanley goes Old Testament on us. He pulls out nuggets from the classic Wisdom literature in Proverbs. He works through the key issues that prominent OT people like David, Solomon, Jeremiah, and Rehoboam wrestled with as this principle was at work in their own lives. This book isn't simply based on Andy Stanley's ideas. It is written from the wealth of wisdom that we find in pages of Scripture.
Andy also speaks from the breadth of his own experiences, sharing how this principle has affected his own life. You'll immediately relate to his points as you hear his self-depracting stories about his encounters with a closed down highway, or a hurricane while anchored off shore in the St. Thomas, or driving the streets of Florence, Italy where no cars had gone before, or how his life was immediately changed when he met his soon-to-be wife, Sandy. Andy has a way of telling a story.
Yet, with each turn of the page you realize that Andy's story sort of sounds a lot like my story, like our story. And then you start to realize that you might be trying to operate outside of this foundational principle - the principle of the path.
If you're a college student - you should read this book. You have some of the most important decisions ahead of you. This book will help you think about where those decisions will lead you.
As I look back through all of the notes, underlines, asterisks, and arrows pointing to exclamation marks in my copy of The Principle of the Path, there are some points that stand out that you might be interested in as well.
- "It really doesn't matter where I intended to be, the path I take determines my ultimate destination." (p19)
- "The best question ever: 'In light of my past experience, and my future hopes and dreams, what's the wise thing to do?" (p40)
- "Today's decisions create tomorrow's experiences." (p55)
- "We can never be free as long as we're in the habit of lying to ourselves about the reasons behind the choices we make and the paths we take." (p73)
- "Choosing the right path begins with submission, not information...submission to the One who knows where each path leads..." (p83)
- "One never accomplishes the will of God by breaking the law of God, violating the principles of God, or ignoring the wisdom of God." (p113 and I put BIG asterisks by this one)
- "Attention determines direction." (p137)
There is so much more. In fact, at the end of the book is a Study Guide for you and others who are reading the book to work through it together. The Study Guide will help you dissect each chapter by providing the Key Idea, Key Truths, Key Questions, and Key Wisdom (from select passages of Scripture).
My only warning about this book is that it's not a book that you simply read and then move on to the next one. As Andy Stanley states in the Epilogue, "Knowing doesn't make the difference. Doing does." The truths in this book will require careful reflection and evaluation of one's own direction. And that's a good thing.