There are very few books I’ve read which I would consider live changing. Outside of the Bible, there are only two or three books which I can say have had such an impact on my life I can recall the specific title of the book, the author, and how it’s impacted me. Granted, there are dozens of books which have influenced my thought processes and beliefs, but books that I can say impacted the direction of my life? Those are few and far between.
The Principle of the Path is a book which certainly has the potential be added to my short list. I say “potential” because its impact can only be measured over time, so I won’t add it to the list just yet – but give me a a year or so and I think it has a very good chance of being on it. This is the first book I’ve ever read by Andy Stanley, but hopefully it will not be the last. His writing style and humor remind me of John Ortberg’s – one of my favorite authors (in fact, at times I found myself thinking I was reading the latest Ortberg book instead of some other author!) I found the book so captivating I actually read it in one 24 hour period (don’t get too impressed by that, it’s less than 180 pages long, and it took me less than 3 hours to read the whole thing).
Here’s the basic thesis of the book: it is our direction not our intentions, that determines our destination. And it is our attention that determines our direction. Simple enough, really, and something I’ve thought about plenty of times. Stanley argues that many (actually, most) people are in situations in their lives that they never intended to be in not because of bad luck but because of bad planning (at times I felt like was writing advice written by my father!) He spends the first few chapters of the book setting out his argument for why this is the case, and then the rest of the book detailing how to apply it to our lives.
Here are two quotes that sum everything up pretty well: “We don’t drift in good directions. We discipline and prioritize ourselves there.” (p150) and “Attention determines direction, and directions determines destination.” (p153) His position, in the end, is sound, and I find myself relating to and understanding it fully. Too often we blame our situation(s) in life on our circumstances, forgetting that our choices led to our circumstances in the first place! Stanley encourages us to set down a course to guide our choices so we can better control our destinations. Stanley does a great job establishing that the Principle of the Path is not a law which can be violated/broken but is something that is at work whether we acknowledge it or not – and we can harness it for our good or bad.
This is a book I highly recommend reading, and one that, if you read in partnership with Search for Significance by Robert McGee, would help you understand to a greater degree yourself (including your thought process, beliefs, struggles, failures, triumphs, and even fears). A solid 5/5 stars.
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