The Principle of the Path

A few months ago I was in Oregon on a “business” trip with some friends.  From the airport we were suppose to jump on I 205 and head for southern Oregon.  Somehow, in leaving the airport one of the cars managed to get on 205 north and started heading toward Seattle.

After a couple phone calls and figuring out where they were, we got them turned around and back on course.

The purpose of this little story is to illustrate that direction, not intention, determines your destination.  My friends, although well intended, were headed in the wrong direction.  They needed to go south and they were heading north.  No amount of positive thinking, hard work or will power could change the fact that if they kept going in that direction, they would end up farther and farther from their destination.

The same is true in our personal lives.  Each of us is headed in a direction, financially, relationally, vocationally and ultimately, eternally.  What determines our destination is not our intention but rather our direction.

The person looking to be financially stable will have a hard road ahead of them if they continue to live beyond their means.  Maxing out credit cards and trading in your “used” vehicle every year for a new one isn’t exactly conducive to eliminating debt.  You might be well intentioned, but if you continue to spend beyond your means, you’re not headed in the direction of financial freedom.

The college student hoping to graduate with honors who sleeps late and skips class regularly will have a hard time achieving that goal.  Although he has great intentions his chosen path is most likely taking him in a different direction.

Relationally speaking, we all want to enjoy a satisfying and fulfilling marriage.  Isn’t that why we got married in the first place?  While that is usually the goal of every marriage, all too often couples end up on a road headed in an entirely different direction.

The well intended wife just wants a neat and orderly household.  So she nags her husband for not helping out more, never being around and rags on him when she’s with her girlfriends.

Meanwhile, the husband has intentions of being present for his wife and kids, but he divides his time between late nights at the office, his Saturday golf games and Sunday afternoons with Sports Center.

Each of these individuals might have good intentions, but their chosen direction is ultimately what will determine their destination.

In his book “The Principle of the Path,” Andy Stanley encourages readers to examine their lives and see if their present direction has them on a path toward their desired destination.  If not, there needs to be a change of direction.  A U-turn in their finances, their relationships and their way of living.

You want to be financially free?  Get out of debt!  Quit eating out, making unnecessary purchases and going on lavished vacations.

Ladies you want a real relationship?  Quit hanging out with the bozo that likes to fool around but gets nervous when you start talking about “making it official.”  (Side note: if he won’t commit without fooling around first, he’s not worth your time.)

Guys you want to get married?  Get a job and get out of your parents basement.  I realize you’re holding out for a management position but the economy stinks.  Take what you can get, develop a work ethic and then maybe someone from a bigger company will recognize that and offer you the job you really want.

You wouldn’t drive across the country without checking a map (or a GPS) and chances are you’d check it several times along the way.  It’s in adjusting our compass that we can realign ourselves with the direction that will have us back on the path to reaching our desired destination.

Surround yourself with people who have gone before you.  People who are older, wiser and have lived some life will have a lot of input as to what works and what doesn’t.

Moving in the right direction is the only way to get where you want to be.  The world will tell you, you can “have it your way,” do whatever you want and still get where you want to be.  Take a look at our country right now and tell me how that is working out?

You can want, wish, hope and even pray that something will change but if the path you’re on is leading you down a road of destruction, debt, divorce or despair, the only way for that to change is to change your direction.

Have you experienced a significant change of direction in an area of your life after realizing you were going in the wrong direction? 

3 thoughts on “The Principle of the Path

  1. Great thoughts, Seth! I appreciate both your tone & and your writing style immensely. I don't think there's a single point you make that I would object to. Mediocrity is a most powerful sedative and I value the people in my circle who love me enough to splash me in the face with the cold water of truth. Thanks for your words; they matter.

  2. You're good! So many times, we don't realize the importance of the people we are surrounded by. We don't need friends who allow us to rag on our husbands. The people we choose to surround ourselves with are a direct result of the direction that we are heading. When we point the car north, we're going to find northerners. South, there are people saying ya'll! 🙂

    When you find the people who are aligned with your thinking and you philosophies. The people who take positive risks, who challenge themselves to be better today than they were yesterday... those are the people you keep around forever - or until something changes.

    If you have your direction right, make sure you are surrounded with people who want to go where you want to go and who believe there is no such thing as flying too close to the sun!


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