Back in March I was passing through Atlanta, GA and had spent the night at my friend Nathan’s place in Alpharetta. While I was there, Nathan took me to his church, North Point, where Andy Stanley is the lead pastor. That particular Sunday, Andy preached out of the book of Jonah and explained the importance of following God’s plan for our lives. I really liked and could relate to Pastor Stanley’s style of delivery. He was professional, straight and to-the-point, had a dry sense of humor, and was extremely articulate. About two or three weeks later, I had returned home to Indiana and found myself in my church’s bookstore, Capstone. I was casually browsing through the selection called “Christian Living” and came across some titles by Andy himself. Remember how much I liked his preaching style, I picked up a copy of The Principle of the Path and took it home with me.
The Principle of the Path focuses on helping people realize that every decision they make in life will somehow influence the position in which they find themselves in the future. Your decision to routinely buy Starbucks coffee every morning before work has an impact on your finances and your waistline. Before you know it, you’re spending $900 a year and have gained an extra 15 pounds! That flirting from your colleague that you’ve decided to acknowledge for the first time just a few months ago, has led to an affair that is ruining your marriage. That decision to buy a 25 cent lotto ticket has led you to buying a $5 ticket every single day. Little, seemingly insignificant decisions can, and usually do, lead you to places you never wanted to be in the first place.
One of Andy’s most powerful points in the whole book has to do with our attention. He correctly points out that what we choose to focus our attention on is generally what we tend to drift towards. Furthermore our attention is incredibly valuable. Every second that goes by is a second we cannot get back. So where our attention is directed, i.e. what we are spending each second focusing on, is important to properly manage. Pastor Stanley points out that where we focus is usually the simple decision that leads us to where we want to go or where we don’t.
My biggest takeaway from the Principle of the Path had to do with this concept of attention. Often times I don’t always direct my attention to where I should. In fact Psalms 119:37 says “Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways.” ESV There have often been times where I was distracted and missed opportunities to experience great things which could have led me to even greater things. We all do that to a certain extent, which is why I think that anyone could find something valuable and applicable in Andy’s book. I don’t think you need to be spiritual to appreciate what Andy says in the Principle of the Path either. The fact of the matter is that the concept of our decisions influencing where we go is a fact of life. With that being said, I think Andy Stanley’s book is a great read and I am recommending it to anyone who’s interested in how their decisions influence the direction of their lives.