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Principle of the Path (Book Summary)


principle of the path

As I read books, I provide myself with a short book summary and relevant book notes for future reference. Others have asked about me sharing those notes in the past. So....here you go.


Here's my book summary of Principle of the Path by Andy Stanley.


Book Summary of Principle of the Path

Book in a Sentence

In this book, Andy Stanley encourages the reader to assess their decisions over thinking about their intentions. In doing so, one will determine the path they are on.


Key Insights

1. Direction—not intention—determines our destination.

2. We are all on a path and are impacted by that path, regardless of whether we want to acknowledge it our not.

3. On our path in life, there is nothing wrong with using other peoples' maps.


My Rating

7/10

 

Book Notes

 

The truth about every path:

That’s true of every highway, freeway, driveway, or path. It leads where it leads, regardless of who’s on it.

Stanley, Andy. The Principle of the Path: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be (pp. 1-2). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.

 

Principle of the path can break you:

You can break a law. But the principle of the path has the power to break you.

Stanley, Andy. The Principle of the Path: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be (p. 3). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.

 

Don't have to know principles to be impacted by them:

That’s the nature of a principle. You don’t have to know it or apply it to be impacted by it. And that’s just the beginning. The principle that explains why a drowning man sinks is the same principle that explains why the flotation device the lifeguard throws in his direction floats. Go figure.


Stanley, Andy. The Principle of the Path: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be (p. 3). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.

 

Floating and sinking:

When the principle of buoyancy is leveraged, things float. When this principle is ignored or misapplied, things sink.

Stanley, Andy. The Principle of the Path: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be (p. 3). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.

 

The first step to recognizing the principle of the path:

When the principle of buoyancy is leveraged, things float. When this principle is ignored or misapplied, things sink.

Stanley, Andy. The Principle of the Path: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be (p. 3). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.

 

No fix for being lost:

There is no fix for being lost. To get from where we don’t want to be to where we do want to be requires two things: time and a change of direction. There isn’t a quick fix.


Stanley, Andy. The Principle of the Path: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be (p. 11). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.

 

People have directions that need changing:

Cars have problems that can be fixed. Computers have problems that can be fixed. Lawn mowers have problems that can be fixed. But generally speaking, people have directions that need to be changed.

Stanley, Andy. The Principle of the Path: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be (p. 12). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.

 

What hard times reveal:

Hard times reveal where we are (and where we aren’t) faster than anything else.

Stanley, Andy. The Principle of the Path: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be (p. 13). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.

 

What determines our destination:

The direction you are currently traveling—relationally, financially, spiritually, and the list goes on and on—will determine where you end up in each of those respective arenas.

Stanley, Andy. The Principle of the Path: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be (p. 15). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.

 

What determines or destination:

Direction—not intention—determines our destination.

Stanley, Andy. The Principle of the Path: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be (pp. 14-15). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.

 

Two things about getting lost:

1. I never know exactly when it happens.

2. The road I’m on always determines where I end up.

Stanley, Andy. The Principle of the Path: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be (p. 19). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.

 

We skip the confessional booth:

If you’re like some of my Catholic friends, you go to confession, dump out all of your sin in a confessional booth, get absolved, and then the next week you feel free to pick up where you left off. We Protestants do the same thing, but with one difference: we skip the confessional booth.


Stanley, Andy. The Principle of the Path: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be (pp. 23-24). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.

 

Our propensity:

We all have a propensity for choosing paths that do not lead in the direction we want to go.


Stanley, Andy. The Principle of the Path: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be (p. 27). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.

 

Everything leads somewhere:

If your goal is to drop two dress sizes, you don’t eat lunch at a donut shop. If you desire to remain faithful to your spouse, you don’t linger in an online chat room with members of the opposite sex. Those aren’t pastimes. Those are pathways. They lead somewhere.


Stanley, Andy. The Principle of the Path: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be (p. 29). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.

 

Difference between the prudent and simple:

The primary difference between the prudent and the simple is not what they see but how they respond to what they see. The prudent see danger and take refuge. The simple see danger and keep going.


Stanley, Andy. The Principle of the Path: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be (p. 41). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.

 

Forgiveness and consequences:

Forgiveness and consequences are two different things. One does not override the other.


Stanley, Andy. The Principle of the Path: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be (p. 43). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.

 

Don't ignore the principle of the path:

Just as you dare not ignore the principle of gravity, you would be wise not to ignore the principle of the path. At the end of the day, direction, not intention, determines destination.

Stanley, Andy. The Principle of the Path: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be (p. 44). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.

 

Illustration on relief:

I have an acquaintance named Buddy who built a forty thousand-dollar, double-sided, fully lit industrial billboard in the middle of a forest. I’m talking about the kind you see on the interstate. Even in the winter, when the trees shed their leaves, you could barely see it from the nearest road. Anybody who noticed the billboard through the foliage would have thought, What idiot did that? For two years the billboard stood there as a monument to Buddy’s seeming stupidity. But eventually the big yellow machines came that way to clear the land for the proposed highway—and this particular stretch of highway was legally deemed a billboard-free zone. But Buddy was there first, so the DOT had to grandfather him in. Now he owns the only billboard on one of the most heavily traveled stretches of highway in Atlanta. Perhaps the most ironic part of the story is that the Georgia Lottery has been leasing one side of his sign since it went up several years ago. So every week, thousands of Georgians who have chosen as part of their financial path an activity synonymous with shredding cash ensure that my friend Buddy receives a big, fat check every month. I’m thinking he’s been amply rewarded for the two years he looked a bit foolish. And that leads me to the second thing you can expect when you embrace the principle of the path: relief.

Stanley, Andy. The Principle of the Path: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be (pp. 49-50). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.

 

Not on a truth quest:

Our problem stems from the fact that we are not on a truth quest. That is, we don’t wake up every morning with a burning desire to know what’s true, what’s right, what’s honorable. We are on a happiness quest. We want to be—as in feel—happy. And our quest for happiness often trumps our appreciation for and pursuit of what’s true.

Stanley, Andy. The Principle of the Path: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be (p. 57). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.

 

Different directions:

When happiness points in one direction while wisdom, truth, integrity, and common sense point in another, that’s when really smart people start doing really stupid things.


Stanley, Andy. The Principle of the Path: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be (p. 59). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.

 

Love and high emotions:

Self-deception is easy when emotions run high. And nothin’ runs ’em higher than love.

Stanley, Andy. The Principle of the Path: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be (p. 64). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.

 

Usefulness of maps:

Maps are useless if you don’t know where you are.

Stanley, Andy. The Principle of the Path: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be (p. 66). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.

 

Importance of a reference point:

Geographically speaking, you can’t get to where you want to be unless you know where you are to begin with. You need a reference point. Similarly, you can’t get to where you want to be in life until you are willing to admit where you are to begin with. Self-deception makes that next to impossible.


Stanley, Andy. The Principle of the Path: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be (p. 66). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.

 

3 questions to help keep your heart in check:

1. Why am I doing this, really?

2. If someone in my circumstances came to me for advice, what course of action would I recommend?

3. In light of my past experience, my future hopes, and my dreams, what is the wise thing to do?


Stanley, Andy. The Principle of the Path: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be (p. 74). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.


 

Choices now, outcomes later:

The challenging aspect about picking the right paths is that the choices are now. The outcomes are later.

Stanley, Andy. The Principle of the Path: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be (p. 80). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.

 

Begins with submission:

Choosing the right path begins with submission, not information. Not even direction. Submission. Specifically, submission to the One who knows where each path leads, as well as where it doesn’t lead.


Stanley, Andy. The Principle of the Path: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be (p. 83). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.

 

What divine directions does:

Divine direction begins with unconditional submission. Not information.

Stanley, Andy. The Principle of the Path: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be (p. 89). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.

 

Imperfect children that need their father:

As a parent, I would rather have imperfect children who love me and (at times) need me than perfect ones who feel no emotional connection with me at all. If my kids always made the right decisions but never called or expressed a desire to connect, I would not be a happy daddy.


Stanley, Andy. The Principle of the Path: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be (pp. 89-90). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.

 

What cost Solomon:

Solomon’s decision to prioritize his relationships with foreign kings over his relationship with God cost him his relationship with God.


Stanley, Andy. The Principle of the Path: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be (p. 92). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.

 

Needing God for decision-making:

In order to make the best decisions now, we need much more than information, common sense, or conventional wisdom. We need God. We need to live with a posture of dependency. We need to acknowledge him in all our ways.

Stanley, Andy. The Principle of the Path: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be (p. 93). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.

 

Accomplishing the will of God:

One never accomplishes the will of God by breaking the law of God, violating the principles of God, or ignoring the wisdom of God.


Stanley, Andy. The Principle of the Path: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be (pp. 109-110). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.

 

Always having to be right:

I learned a long time ago that there is something more important than being right, and that is making the right decision. People who always have to be right will always be limited in their decision-making ability.


Stanley, Andy. The Principle of the Path: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be (p. 124). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.

 

A mind that's already made up:

It is next to impossible to hear the voice of wisdom if we are not really listening for it to begin with. The best counsel in the world is wasted counsel if our minds are already made up.


Stanley, Andy. The Principle of the Path: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be (p. 129). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.

 

Pride and two mirrors:

Pride is hard to see in the bathroom mirror. But it is awfully easy to see in the rearview mirror.


Stanley, Andy. The Principle of the Path: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be (p. 129). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.

 

Things that have your attention:

I have a tendency to drift in the direction of the things that have my attention.


Stanley, Andy. The Principle of the Path: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be (p. 136). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.

 

Attention determines direction:

What gets our attention determines our direction and, ultimately, our destination. Or if you would prefer the short version: attention determines direction.

Stanley, Andy. The Principle of the Path: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be (p. 136). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.


 

Paying attention comes with a cost:

Why would we associate the term pay with the term attention? Why does a teacher have to tell a student who is staring out the window at a bird on the windowsill to pay attention? Why pay? Pay implies price. Pay implies cost. Pay implies giving away something of value. Loss. And it is this sense of loss that keeps us from paying attention to the things that deserve our attention and would serve us best in the future.


Stanley, Andy. The Principle of the Path: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be (pp. 142-143). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.

 

Red light parenting:

I know too many parents who treat their kids like their automobiles. They wait for the red light on the dashboard to light up before giving them any attention.


Stanley, Andy. The Principle of the Path: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be (p. 150). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.

 

Leaning into God:

Namely, when it dawns on you that your dreams can’t come true, the best response is to lean hard into your heavenly Father—even when it appears that he is responsible for your disappointment.


Stanley, Andy. The Principle of the Path: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be (p. 169). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.

 


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