A biblically based road map to proper direction and discipline offers practical guidance on how to avoid unnecessary hurt, pain, and disappointment in life, providing examples to prove that direction trumps intention every single time. Includes study guide.
Andy Stanley is the senior pastor of North Point Community Church, Buckhead Church, and Browns Bridge Community Church. He also founded North Point Ministries, which is a worldwide Christian organization.
Truly, there is nothing in Andy Stanley’s book, The Principle of the Path, that you don’t already know, or that you wouldn’t figure out if you put your mind to it.
But, therein lies the rub…very few of us stop and actually think about this simple life principle.
In a nutshell, this ultra simple yet grossly overlooked principle states this: the path you are on determines where you are going.
Geographically, no one would argue with this point. If you want to go to New York City, heading west from Chicago isn’t going to get you there. If you want to go to Paris, hopping on a plane to Tokyo is not part of the plan.
Yet, when it comes to our lives, we ignore, or are blissfully unaware of the impact that our daily decisions have on our ultimate goals. The path leading to financial security is not strewn with credit card debt. If a healthy marriage is the goal, then ’innocently’ flirting with a single co-worker is nowhere on the map. To get that diploma, waiting until the night before the final to start studying isn’t the way to go.
While the basic premise of The Principle of the Path is simple, the message is vital. Stanley’s book is a reminder and a wake up call to all who have fallen asleep at the steering wheel of life.
Prior to this book, I had never read an Andy Stanley book. But, since I'm a part of a church that partners with his church, I figured I'd best check him out. I'm glad I chose this book as my first Stanley read cause it was both relevant and convicting to me.
Stanley writes similarly to Dave Ramsey (whom I love). He is logical, humorous, and oftentimes makes very obvious realities seem fresh and unique in the way that he presents them.
The "principle of the path" is all about how, in life, we make decisions; we focus our attention on something and thus make decisions toward that something; these decisions point us in a direction; and, ultimately our destination is determined by our direction.
This may seem like an obvious reality; however, what Stanley points out over and over in this book is that in almost every arena of life, whether marriage, finances, parenthood, career, recreation, habits, or spirituality, we act as if intentions determine destinations. This is made manifest in the all-too-common moment when something unpleasant happens in our lives and we think "Why is this happening to me?" and certain other people around us could have or did warn us of the path that we were on and how it inevitably would lead to that destination. In the same way that there are negative destinations to the paths we can take, there are also many positive destinations to the paths we can take. Being responsible now pays off later just as being irresponsible now pays off later.
This book takes something as obvious and real as the "principle of the path" and powerfully ties it into our lives as believers.
Stanley touches on failure, success, and lost dreams as they pertain to this principle, making this book a very practical and relevant book to most anyone at any point on their own paths. I thoroughly enjoyed both Stanley's content and his writing style and would recommend this book to most people I know.
Here are a few of my favorite quotes:
"My observation indicates that humans have a propensity for choosing paths that do not lead in the direction they want to go. For much of our decision making, we lean hard into our intentions and pay very little attention to the direction of the path we've chosen." p. 19
"What's so obvious to those watching often escapes us." p. 22
"Forgiveness and consequences are two different things. One does not override the other." p. 43
"There are all kinds of actions that feel extreme now that will look like common sense when you are looking back. What feels like sacrifice now will feel like an investment later." p. 49
"Our problem is rarely a lack of information or insight. It's not that we fail to see trouble brewing on the horizon. It's a lack of honesty. We have a hard time leveling with ourselves. We deceive ourselves about why we choose the things we choose." p. 65 --So true!
"Choosing the right path begins with submission, not information. Not ever direction. Submission. Specifically, submission to the One who knows where each path leads, as well as where it doesn't lead. Submission to the One who knows what's best for you better than you know what's best for you." p.83
"Emotionally driven decision making rarely leads us down the right path. In the emotion of the moment, we are easily swayed by conventional wisdom, cultural norms, the herd mentality, or even our own patterns of behavior." p.104
"Taking your cues from people who share your season of life is the equivalent of asking for and following the directions of someone who's never been where you want to go. And in some cases it is much worse than that. It may be like taking directions from someone who is lost." p.118
"Pride is hard to see in the bathroom mirror. But it is awfully easy to see in the rearview mirror. Looking back, it is all too clear to me why I refused to listen to the voices of reason when I was in over my head. It was pride." p. 129
"If we are honest, the cost of disentangling ourselves from unhealthy relationships and activities seems too high a price to pay. And at the same time, the benefits associated with paying attention to the right things seem so distant that they don't whet our appetite for change. And so we continue to live our lives captive to the things that have captured our attention." p.144
This is a great book with a simple message: where you're heading is where you'll end up. Realigning your desires with the reality of your decisions will help you get on the path that leads to the future you want. This book is also good for figuring out what to do when you get derailed--when dreams get broken and time runs out, what should you do? Submitting to God's will is the path that leads to hope in spite of the circumstances. Great, quick read.
"Wisdom is the principle thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding." (Proverbs 4:7)
These are not new words, not to many Christians and not to Andy Stanley, Pastor of North Point Church in Alpharetta, GA.
In his book, 'The Principle of the Path: How to Get From Where You Are to Where You Want to Be', these words are expounded in an authentic, genuine, conversational style prompting the reader to consider many of the choices made in their lives in light of an unyielding principle.
So simple and still so profound is the key message "Direction - not intention - determines your destination." With engaging and often comical recollections of his sometimes 'unwise' decisions, Pastor Stanley addresses many of the causes and effects of the decisions we make.
I particularly enjoyed the reference to Shanti Feldman's book, 'For Parents Only' and the study claiming that the frontal lobe of the human brain does not fully develop until the mid twenties offering a physical cause for the 'mistakes of youth'.
Bible study students will identify with the many references to Proverbs and the examination of two great Old Testament men, King David and his son Solomon.
Perhaps the most resilient herald in the book is the statement that the Principle is unyielding, unforgiving, and not prejudicial. You will reach the destination of the path you are on. It is in your best interest to acknowledge and examine your what direction you are headed.
Small Group Leaders As an additional bonus, a 10 Lesson Study Guide is included in the back of the book providing those interested in delving deeper and applying the ideas presented . A great resource and compliment to the book.
The book takes a very simple truth and drives it home page after page. It is that your current direction will determine your destination.
We look for solutions to problems that we brought on ourselves. It is not that we are not intelligent but there is a huge disconnect. We don’t realize that our direction is determining our destination.
The first step in choosing the right path is not a problem of information but one of submission.
We need to acknowledge God in all of our ways and decisions.
Our emotions confuse us and cause us to make poor decisions that put us on the path or in the direction that will cause us great trouble. All of life is filled with decision making situations that occur in emotionally charged environments.
The book is filled with simple wisdom that we have overlooked. As Andy says there is really nothing new here but we need to understand and apply what we know. We heard our parents say it and we know it to be true. It is your direction more than it is what you are doing.
I suggest that young people read the book to learn and apply the principle of the path. It will save them a lifetime of questions. It will provide them direction about the decisions they face everyday. It will also help them to avoid those life-wasting detours along the way.
We never get to the point that we do not need the wisdom of others and wise counsel. There are so many of these good quotes in the book that the quotes alone make the book worth reading.
What gets our attention determines our direction and ultimately our destination.
You can’t trust your intentions so get focused on the direction you are taking today.
A very practical book on spirituality... or a very spiritual book on practical living - take your pick. Written with the usual charm & warmth evidenced by Andy Stanley (my guess is that this began life as a sermon series), he does a great job of encouraging wisdom in life choices based on Biblical principles.
For those who like their Christian books filled with Scripture references, this is going to be a frustrating read, however - while he uses Bible verses & stories to establish & underline his points, he isn't interested in proving that he won a Bible Drill tournament when he was a kid - an approach I appreciate as it makes this very helpful book easier to hand off to those who are still working through questions about faith in Jesus Christ.
The last chapter (on how to respond when you realize that previous life choices have cut you off from your dreams) is worth the price of admission by itself.
I knew within the first chapter that this book wasn't really for me, however, I kept reading. It is a self-help book based on Christian teachings so it didn't speak to me. Basically it was about the choices that we make and the paths our choices take us with the advice to choose wisely and to think about the consequences (this was nothing new to me). Overall I found it a bit negative and it seemed to suggest dire consequences for wrong choices. It also ended on a down note about when dreams don't come true and in those cases to accept God's will and submit. I kept thinking that the author was suggesting we are the causes of our own misfortune and in some ways we can be, but luck has a lot to do with it, as well as good fortune.
I thoroughly enjoyed, if that can be said of a book that seriously challenges a person to consider their every step, Andy Stanley's book. Stanley presents in a well written manner life principles that are consistant across the ages. If a person does one thing consistently, certain outcomes are consistently the result. He applies biblical principles to the book of course but also concludes that these principles are faithful even outside the community of faith. A short and easy book to read but a challenge to apply simply because of the honesty with which one must examine oneself!
A short book about a simple principle - intention, not direction, determines destination. Put differently, the path you are on and not the path you want to be on, determines where you will end up. Very well written and extremely practical - trade mark Andy Stanley.
Embracing the principle of the path will empower you to identify the paths that lead to the destinations you desire, while avoiding regret. - Principles are neither good or bad, they just are - You can leverage the principle of the path for your benefit or ignore it to reap a harvest of regret. - The principle of the path follows you. Its not a law. You can break a law. But the principle has the power to break you - Psalm 16:11.
Direction - not intention - determines your destination - Generally speaking, people have directions that need to be changed as opposed to problems that need to be fixed - We will win or lose in life based on the paths we choose - Matthew 7:13; 1 Kings 11:1-11.
If you want to move in a certain direction, you have to choose the right path - Most people choose paths that do not lead in the directions they want to go - We are quick to ask for forgiveness but slow to repent and walk away from sin - Choosing the wrong path can cost you precious years - Proverbs 7:6-27; Jeremiah 6:16.
The prudent react to what they see on the horizon - We tend to take the path of least resistance - The prudent act as if then is now (ie as if the future is the present) - At some point, it is impossible to sidestep consequences. Being forgiven doesn't override consequences -Proverbs 27:12; Psalm 73:1-20.
To find the path that will take you where you want to go, break the cycle of self-deception - We are not on a truth quest - When you are willing to come clean with yourself about the uncomfortable truth behind your choices, you're on the verge of freedom - Jeremiah 17:9-10; John 8:32.
Choosing the right path begins with submitting to the One who knows whats best for you better than you know whats best for you - Submission, not talent or information, is the key to good decisions - 1 Kings 3:7-13; Proverbs 3:5-6.
You can never accomplish the will of God by breaking the law of God, violating the principles of God or ignoring the wisdom of God - Your decision making environments are not emotionally neutral - It is almost impossible to gain the perspective you need to choose the paths that take you where you want to go in emotionally charged environments - 1 Samuel 24:4-7; 1 Samuel 3:3-23.
You will never reach your full potential without tapping into the wisdom of others - The herd assumption is assuming that because everyone you know is doing something the same way, it must be all right - It is always wise to learn what we can from people whose lives and lifestyles reflect our own goals and aspirations - Successful people know what they don't know and they are quick to go to people who do know - Pray for wisdom and then seek outside assistance.
What gets our attention determines our direction and our destination - The things that grab our attention are often things we should avoid - Intentionality fuels our decision to give certain things our attention - A sense of loss keeps you from paying attention to the things that deserve your attention and would serve you best in the future - Proverbs 4:25-27; Matthew 14:24-31.
When it dawns on you that your dreams can't come true, the best response is to lean hard on the One who allowed your disappointment to occur - Some things are never going to happen for us - God can be trusted but not manipulated - The only option other than submitting to God is to run from the Only One who can give comfort - 2 Samuel 7:1-7.
1. My Swamp Ride a. Embracing the principle of the path will empower you to identify the paths that lead to the destinations you desire, while avoiding regret i. You can leverage the principle of the path for your benefit or ignore it and repeat a harvest of regret ii. The principle impacts your life every day iii. The principle follows you. It is not a law. You can break a law. But the principle of the path has the power to break you. iv. Ps 16:1 v. Ps 119:105
2. Why Bad Things Happen to Smart People a. Direction – not intention – determines your destination i. Recognizing the distinction between a solution and a path is the first step in understanding the principle of the path ii. People don’t need to be ‘fixed’ so much as they need different directions iii. You and I will win or lose in life because of the paths we choose. iv. Mt 7:13 v. 1 Kings 11:1-11 “When someone is where he doesn’t want to be, he already knows the solution; what he needs is direction. There is no fix for being lost….it requires two things: time and a change of direction. There isn’t a quick fix.” P11 “You and I will win or lose in life by the paths we chose.” P15 3. The Great Disconnect a. If you move in a certain direction, you have to choose the right path i. We often choose paths that do not lead in a direction we want to go ii. We are quick to ask forgiveness, slow to repent and walk away from our sin iii. Choosing the wrong path can cost many precious years iv. Prov 7:6-27 v. Jer 6:16
“It breaks my heart how many people … who don’t connect the dots between the choices they make and the outcomes they experience.” P22
4. Should’ve Seen That Coming a. The prudent react to what they see on the horizon i. Instead of thinking about the destination/results of the path we are on, we tend to charge down the path of least resistance ii. The prudent act as if then is now; as if the future is the present. The simple react as if tomorrow will always be tomorrow. iii. For some behaviors there is a point of no return, when it becomes impossible to sidestep consequences. iv. Being forgiven does not override experiencing consequences v. Being wise may appear foolish; looking silly now may help to avoid bad later. vi. Prov 27:12 vii. Ps 73:1-20
The best question ever: “In light of my past experience, and my future hopes and dreams, what is the wise thing to do?” p39-40
I don’t want to be “oblivious to the obvious”. P42
“Lord, help us to see trouble coming long before it gets here, and give us wisdom to know what to do and the courage to do it.” P55
5. The Heart of the Matter a. To find the path you need, you may need to break the cycle of self-deception i. Maybe we are not on a truth-quest; ii. The promise of happiness points in one direction, while wisdom, truth, integrity, and common sense point in another: = smart people doing stupid things iii. We can deceive ourselves, excuse bad choices, believe them over time iv. If you are willing to come clean about the truth of bad choices, you are on the verge of freedom. v. Jer 17:9-10 vi. Jn 8:32
“…when we stand at the crossroads between prudent and happy, we lie to ourselves. We turn into dishonest salespeople. We begin selling ourselves on what we want to do rather than what we ought to do. We listen to ourselves until we believe our own lies, and then we opt for happiness… we listen to our hearts, and then we assign our heads the responsibility of building a case…” P61
6. My Italian Job a. Choosing the right path begins with submitting to the One who knows what is best for you better than you know what is best i. Failure to trust/submit to your heavenly Father can lead to unintended/undesirable destinations ii. Choosing the right path begins with submission, not information iii. Submission – not talent, information, or insight – is the key to good decisions iv. 1 Kings 3:7-13 v. Prov 3:5-6
7. The Story You Will Tell a. One never accomplishes the will of God by breaking the law of God, violating the principles of God, or ignoring the wisdom of God i. Your decision-making environments are not emotionally neutral ii. Emotionally charged decision-making environments make it almost impossible to gain the needed perspective to choose the paths where you want to go iii. The laws, principles, and wisdom of God provided David with the clarity he needed to do the right thing in the right way at the right time, despite incredible pressure to do otherwise. iv. 1 Sam 24:4-7 v. 1 Sam 3:3-23
8. A Little Help From Our Friends a. You will never reach your full potential without tapping into the wisdom of others i. The herd assumption is when you assume that since everyone you know is doing something the same way, it must be all right. ii. It is always wise to learn what we can from those who reflect our own goals and aspirations iii. Successful people know what they don’t and they are quick to go to people who do know. iv. Pray for wisdom, and then check outside assistance. v. No one gets to the place where they no longer need wise counsel vi. Prov 1:5, 11:14, 12:15, 13:10; 15:22; 19:20
“It takes a lot of security to say, “Even though I am in charge, I have no idea what to do on this issue.” P122 “The wise are always listening. That’s how they became wise. That’s how they remain wise. P124
9. Attention Retention a. What gets our attention determines our direction and, ultimately, our destination i. The things that grab your attention are often things that you should avoid ii. Whereas emotion fuels the things that grab your attention, intentionality fuels your decision to give certain things your attention iii. A sense of loss keeps you from paying attention to the things that deserve your attention and would serve you best in the future iv. Over and over, God reminds you that the things to which you harness your attention direct your life v. Prov 4:25-27 vi. Matt 14:24-31 “We don’t drift in good directions. We discipline and prioritize ourselves there. P 150 10. Road Closed a. When it dawns on you that your dreams can’t come true, the best response is to lean hard on the One who allowed your disappointment to occur i. At some point, we all wake to the realization that IT, is not going to happen ii. God can be trusted but not manipulated iii. The only option, other than submitting to God is run from the only One who can bring comfort when you need comfort the most iv. You can respond other ways but in the end of striving and manipulating, nothing will have changed. v. 2 Sam 7:1-7, Luke 22:42
+ Attention determines direction, and direction - not intention - determines destination
+ The best question ever, according to Andy: * “In light of my past experience, and my future hopes and dreams, what’s the wise thing to do?”
+ People aren’t like machines; they don’t need a fix or a solution, they need a change in direction
+ We’re often on a happiness quest rather than a wisdom quest; this often leads us away from happiness, especially when wisdom seems to conflict with happiness (when what we want now conflicts with what we want most)
+ Pride prevents us from choosing the right path; we must humbly submit ourselves to God and to the wise advice of others
+ “One never accomplishes the will of God by breaking the law of God”
+ It’s not always possible to get where you want to go - When you realize a destination is out of reach or a dream won’t come true, pray that God’s will be done and rest in the fact that you have done all you can
A must read for everyone. The principle of the path: It is our direction, not our intentions, that determines our destination. Our hopes, dreams, prayers, beliefs, intellect, or education mean nothing if we're on the wrong path. Whether you believe in the principle of the path, agree with it, or are even aware of it, it is ALWAYS at work in your life, every minute of every day. The paths we choose determine where we'll end up. Most of the time we don't even realize we're choosing paths, yet we are. This book reminded me of a short poem I have framed: "There is a choice you have to make in everything you do, and you must always keep in mind, the choice you make, makes you." This is all easier said than done and we all make bad choices, but the book is an excellent reminder of how to make wise choices that set you on the right paths.
Really loved the book. Our paths all have a destination that they are gona take us on we have to be aware of that. The concepts or principles addressed in the book are not new, but I love the way thay Andy approaches them. We really need to be aware that in all areas of our life we are on a path, whether its health, finance, relationships we are on a path. if it is not leading us to where we want to be then you need to stop and head on another path.
I also like how he addresses the fact that some destinations may get lost to us. there are certain paths that due to past decisions those destinations will never be reached. so what do you do in those situations.
motivation is great but in the end its all about the path you are on.
4.5 People, this is beautiful. You know many of those discipleship/devotional books with a deeply challenging or encouraging point or thought process, in which the topic at hand seems incapable of stretching over an entire book (like 4-6 chapters tops)? Yeah, well, this is nearly the opposite. See, this is such a small and simple point/task that I questioned if Mr Stanley could really pull off an entire book. He did so with endless urgency, relevance, and application. In fact, this has become my go-to book for recent high school/college graduates. It is not overly deep or complicated, in fact, it is simple. But for it's intended audience, it is perfect.
Great book. It is very well-written, and very practical. There do not seem to be any wasted pages, as each one is full of excellent content. It is a deep read, but at the same time a fairly quick one.
This one will stay with you for a while, and shape your thinking. For example, it will be hard to make decisions as a person or as a pastor now, and not immediately think of things like, what path does this put me on, what may be distracting me, and are my reasons following my decisions (meaning, they aren't the real reasons).
This, like some other books by Andy Stanley, are just a sermon series re-packaged. But this is good, it is good to read a book and have it preach back at me.
Went from physical book to ebook to audiobook…likely because of the gravity of the subject matter. The book requires some introspection, I needed something to move me through it. Overall, I really enjoyed the book, and found it quite practical. I am a Christian, so the scripture references and stories were familiar to me. However, even without a Christian background, I think those looking for practical life lessons may find some use in this book. The stories (both faith based and real life examples) were relatable and relevant. I really enjoyed the audiobook narrator as well. If you are like me and sometimes get inertia with reading even if you enjoy a book, the audiobook is worth it.
This book was not full of anything new. It was not any big lightbulb ah-ha moment. BUT it was full of what I needed to hear to evaluate where I am, why am I not where I want to be, and what things can I think about to get there. There are certain things leading me in a direction that I felt convicted about. But I was convicted in a way that didn't make me feel guilty or hopeless. I like that none of this was ground shaking, new knowledge. And I like how conversational the narrative is. It made for a light, quick, yet insightful read.
I wish I would've read this book 15 years ago. The deep but simple principle will have you thinking back to all the times you took the wrong path. I personally remembered many situations where I took the wrong path by ignoring those around me and putting my attention on the wrong things. There is hope though once you stop and get on the right path.
Stanley has a talent for taking simple and obvious concepts and bringing out what's profound in them. He does so beautifully in this book.
This would be an excellent resource for working through with older teenagers and young adults.
Had this book consisted of chapters 1-5 only, this would be a five star review. If you're considering reading it, I think you will gain 98% of the value by reading those five chapters and the epilogue.
Every single one of us has taken a path that leads to an endpoint we don't really have in mind. Direction- not intention- determines our destination. Why do we take this direction, this path? We have deceived ourselves. How can we avoid this from happening again? We need to own up to why we go with the deception. I would encourage everyone who cares about themselves...and who care about all the others who will be affected by their path...to read this book.
This book is great. It really helped me to recognize the errors in my thinking and how and why I have followed some of the wrong paths. This book helped me to see how to get on the right path. I believe that if we follow the principles in this book, we can avoid a lot of heartache and save tons of time.
There are few communicators who are as clear and compelling as Andy Stanley. This is a very good book that tells us a lot of things that we likely already know, but constantly seem to forget in our daily lives. We need to remember that our decisions determine our destinations. The actions that we take today will impact what we are able to do tomorrow.
Decent little advice book (pretty good gift for recent high school or college grad), but I find myself wishing it were more Christian, as in, explicitly about love of God and neighbor in Christ, rather than good advice that happens to follow the contours of some Scriptures.
Maybe I shouldn’t require Christian pastors to only write Christian books?
Great easy to read help book. The concept of Principle of path may sound obvious and it is. It is still one of human kinds greatest challenges. This book highlights the challenges and gives great direction on taking the right path to reach your destination.
This is the first Andy Stanley book I’ve read. Easy to read with a very basic message that most of us would already know but by the time you’ve finished the book you will wish that you could of read it years ago and somehow mapped out a few different paths that we may of taken. I enjoyed how he weaves Solomon and David throughout it.