Monday, December 29, 2014

BookPastor >> "The Traveler's Gift" (Andy Andrews)

As we close out the year, with gift giving and thanksgiving in the air, perhaps we can reflect on what are life's best gifts. This review was first published at "A Book Pastor Recommends" on April 6th, 2011.


TITLE: THE TRAVELER's GIFT - Seven Decisions that Determine Personal Success
AUTHOR: Andy Andrews
PUBLISHER: Nashville, TN: Thomas-Nelson, 2002.

I am reading this book largely because the author's latest book,"The Final Summit" makes regularly references to it. I am not disappointed. The many accolades and blurbs from famous names tempt any reader to want to read this book. Unlike some self-help books, that deals with step-by-step methodologies or philosophical treatises, Andrews cleverly combines historical fact with a creative narrative. At the same time, he weaves in seven motivational phrases by creating a character that many of us can identify with. The author captures the reader's imagination through the interactions of David Ponder, with people like Harry Truman, King Solomon, Joshua Chamberlain, Christopher Columbus, Abraham Lincoln, and Gabriel the Archangel. With each character comes seven decisions or life's lessons. The seven decisions are as follows:
  1. "The buck stops here. I am responsible for my past and my future."
  2. "I will seek wisdom. I will be a servant to others."
  3. "I am a person of action. I seize this moment. I choose now."
  4. "I have a decided heart. My destiny is assured."
  5. "Today I will choose to be happy. I am the possessor of a grateful spirit."
  6. "I will greet this day with a forgiving spirit. I will forgive myself."
  7. "I will persist without exception. I am a person of great faith."
The book is strong in its story-telling approach, linking a modern character we can identify with, to a specific historical person. It reminds us that our modern challenges are no bigger than the past. In fact, past giants have overcome greater things. We shall not linger around and whine about our problems. The down and out character, David Ponder, highlights the fears that the readers have. Fears about losing a job. Fears about not able to pay our monthly bills. Fears about high medical costs. Most of it, fears about not doing anything about our predicament. 

I like the individual decisions that one can make, in spite of formidable challenges in life. The two stories that touch me are the ones at Gettysburg, and the final story about faith as revealed by Gabriel the Archangel. Chapter 9 alone is worth the price of the book. I like the fact that Andrews brings history alive through this book. He can be a history teacher! I love this quote.

"But it is a fact that great leaders - great achievers - are rarely realistic by other people's standards. Somehow, these successful people, often considered strange, pick their way through life ignoring or not hearing negative expectations and emotions. Consequently, they accomplish one great thing after another, never having heard what cannot be done. That is precisely why one should never tell a young person that something cannot be done. God may have waiting centuries for someone ignorant enough of the impossible to do that very thing!" (Gabriel speaking to David Ponder, p150)

The story is heartwarming, but gives me an uncomfortable feeling about how 'real' it can be for us. For example, by giving David Ponder a glimpse that he will eventually be owners of a huge business empire, it unwittingly portrays success in terms of health and wealth. While I do not think that is the author's intention, the reader may perhaps be unwittingly convinced that success means monetary gains, wide fame, and a big name for oneself. 

This book is worth reading, especially when you feel down and out, that the whole world seems to be against you. Start with the first decision. "The buck stops here." No more wallowing. No more swallowing of sobs and tears. Make a decision to do something about it.

Rating: 4 stars of 5.


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