Personal development is not a genre that I typically read. I have a difficult time with gimmicky, formulaic, “follow these steps and your life will be made of unicorns and marshmallow fluff!” types of books. It’s all been said and done. So when Dr. Thien Doan shared this in the introduction:
There are plenty of books out there on this subject by experts and success gurus who have conquered the world, made fortunes, and have millions of followers, fans and “friends” on Social Media. I’m not one of them.
I found myself smiling. The Life Path may not have been a title I would have chosen if not graciously asked to review it, but I can’t help but appreciate an author who is refreshingly down-to-earth.
The subject matter – planning, goal setting, leaving a legacy – is difficult for me. My eyes tend to glaze over when an author tasks me with composing lists or figuring out where I want to be in five years. This brain simply doesn’t work like that. It’s not that I don’t like planning; I do. Quite a lot. I am in fact deeply logical and orderliness is my jam. Perhaps the struggle is rooted in living with chronic illness. I simply have no idea what the next day, let alone the next year, will bring.
Thus I appreciate that Dr. Doan doesn’t pretend that life is neat. Plans must be sketched in pencil. He keeps the changeable nature of human existence at the forefront as he lays out the steps of the “Life Path.” We must take responsibility for ourselves, he rightly declares, but he doesn’t try to sell the notion that we can achieve perfection or bliss this side of eternity. Dr. Doan draws the reader to focus on God; how He has gifted and called each person. Those gifts and callings are varied. One life will not be exactly the same as the other. Several biblical illustrations are used to drive this home, from Nehemiah and his quest to rebuild the wall to the haunting question Jesus asked the man by the pool: “Do you want to get well?”
This is an honest book, outlining a never-ending journey. As we grow and change and become more intimate with the Lord, the road shifts. Dr. Doan reminds us that God is the center, the focus. He is to be our highest priority. We must be willing to lay our plans aside as His will becomes clear. That is a necessary and timely message to a church culture that is caught up in self-centeredness and the pursuit of the American Dream.
Humble and straightforward, Dr. Doan peppers his message with humor and pop-culture references, which I greatly enjoyed. One moment I was laughing…
I’m like Steve Rogers before he got the Super Soldier serum that turned him into Captain America. Beaten up and with a bloody nose, I’ll still square up and look at life’s obstacles in the eye and say, “I can do this all day.”
…the next I was thinking deeply,
God has a clear and compelling assignment for your life. Can you see it? Is your vision clear? Is it compelling enough to get your butt off the couch?
This is feet-on-the-pavement style teaching, meant to drive the reader to action.
Dr. Doan sums up the message of this book within its pages:
If you’re not learning, you’re not growing as a person.
This is the task of the disciple – to learn from and grow in the Lord. The Life Path is a good resource in that pursuit, perhaps especially if you’re not normally a fan of this kind of book.