Sometimes we wake up in life and wonder, “How did I get here?” Usually, when we’re asking that kind of question, the place at which we’ve arrived isn’t one we wanted to visit in the first place. In THE PRINCIPLE OF THE PATH, pastor and bestselling author Andy Stanley explores the relationship between path and destination.
Most of us know that if we plug an address into our GPS, iPhone or Google Maps, and follow the route, then we’ll get to where we want to go. A physical path leads to a predictable physical location. This principle is not just true when it comes to geography, but in every area of our lives: relationally, financially, physically and academically. Yet despite the simplicity of this principle, people struggle to recognize it in their own lives. The result? People wake up one day and find themselves drowning in debt, signing divorce papers, or spiritually depleted, and wonder how they got there. Odds are the people around them knew they were on the path the whole time. Why? Because all too often, it’s far easier to recognize someone else’s path than our own.
That’s why Stanley is convinced that embracing the principle of the path is the key to avoiding regret. If we carefully examine the path we’re on, we can make the proper adjustments to make sure the path lines up with the destination we desire.
In one of the best chapters of the book, “Should’ve Seen That Coming,” Stanley notes that life would be so much easier the second time around if we had an opportunity to learn from the first time through. Unfortunately, we don’t have that chance. Many of the things we face in life, we dive into without any experience at all. Marriage is a great example. Just like you don’t learn how to drive a car without getting behind the wheel, you can’t learn what really works for you to grow a great marriage without saying “I do.” That’s why Stanley says he and his family have prayed a steady request for years:
“Lord, help us to see trouble coming long before it gets here. And give us the wisdom to know what to do and the courage to do it.”
Those words mark the beginning of wisdom --- seeking God and pursing Him --- which is also what this book is about. At several points, Stanley almost apologizes for writing about such an obvious principle and topic, yet he manages to fill the pages with insight and reflective challenges for the reader. The one drawback is that Stanley doesn’t share many personal or intimate weaknesses or moments when he realized he was on the wrong path and what he did to change. The upside is that some readers will be able to fill in the blanks with moments from their own lives, though others will find the material too general and unidentifiable.
Overall, THE PRINCIPLE OF THE PATH is clearly written and accessible to people of many different backgrounds.
Reviewed by Margaret Oines on March 31, 2009