The Principle of the Path

In Andy Stanley’s The Principle of the Path, the author seeks to share a principle that is true-to-life for each and every one of us – “Direction, not intention, determines destination.”

The majority of his points were supported by humorous anecdotes or general Biblical stories (I felt his final chapter dealing primarily with David and Absalom was by far the best) rather than with the Bible specifically. I realize that as a pastor, I am in a unique position to desire more interaction with the inspired Word of God. However I would anticipate that, as a pastor, I am also in the category of the bulk of his readership – and as the result, I’m not in as unique a position as one would expect.  

”The principle of the path explains why many people’s dreams don’t come true. It explains why intelligent people with admirable goals and ambitions end up far away from where they intended to be relationally, financially, educationally, emotionally, even spiritually.”

The Principle of the Path has a lot to offer in the way of making prudent, calculated decisions. Several times while reading it, I was forced to stop and consider some very strong points and powerful questions. I was repeatedly prompted to close the book, go to my wife, and have life-giving conversations regarding our marriage, our children, and how she perceived me. Those conversations – even more than the message of the book – were worth the time it took the read it. And I’m grateful for it.

My concern with The Principle of the Path, is that it is seemingly void of the Gospel.  God becomes a wise counselor who’s primary goal is to seek our good – to give us a good life. The book is primarily about making good decisions based upon our preferred future and offers little hope to those who have found themselves at the end of their path looking back. What hope is there for failed marriages, mounds of debt, and unruly, disobedient children?

According to this book? Only the hope that we would begin to make better decisions.

And that is the book’s weakness. I kept waiting for the Gospel to burst through the pages like a breath of fresh air. I kept longing for the burst of hope to split the pages. But it never came.

I don’t doubt that Andy Stanley knows and understands the Gospel, but my heart breaks for those who will read this book – written by a pastor using multiple verses and Biblical references – and never find the hope of the resurrected Christ; the very same Christ who stopped Saul in his tracks on his path to Damascus and set him on a new one.

Please note my disclosure.


  1. I haven’t read this Andy Stanley book yet, but loved The Noticer- although it doesn’t mention Jesus either, and The Butterfly effect left me without anything at all- again, no mention of Jesus. I thankyou for this review because you have saved me some dollars. I guess Andy is trying to write books with the widest possible appeal, possibly with the notion that mentioning Jesus would turn some people ‘off’- imagine Moslems denying Allah- it simply wouldn’t happen. They consider us weak with all the concessions we make to be P.C.~! I’m not saying Andy denies God, but by not mentioning Him in his books, the books loose any power they might otherwise have had.

    1. I’m sorry if I left you with that impression. He certainly mentions Jesus and talks specifically about following God. There’s simply an absence of God’s sovereign hand in changing our circumstances.

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