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Paul Hayden

God…U and I…Dance?

June 5, 2023

I thought it might be inspiring and informative for you for me to share my life in my early twenties. This article concerns my first ownership experience and hearing God for direction and guidance. Remember guidance? God…U and I…Dance.

Like God led Joseph and Mary out of Nazareth to Bethlehem, God started repositioning me into my purpose and destiny in 1974. Twenty-four years old and equipped with a bachelor's degree in personnel management, I worked as an office manager for Grimshaw Mortuaries in Phoenix, Arizona. The company then had nearly eighty employees, four mortuaries, and one cemetery. I started as an office manager trainee.

In March of 1974, during the Jesus Revolution, I received Christ as my Lord and Savior. Right away, I could sense something was different. Immediately I knew on the inside that I was supposed to leave Grimshaw Mortuaries and start a new business. I had $3000 at that time. A print-shop owner from my church mentioned a small book bindery he knew was for sale. The owners were quite elderly, ready to retire, and the business had dwindled to just a few accounts.

I knew nothing about bookbinding or printing. My vast experience (just kidding) in the industry was printing funeral folders at the mortuary. I looked at another business, but there was something about the bindery. I was a new Christian, but I knew this was the business for me. It wasn't a presumption or a wish-dream; rather, it was a faith-infused utterance from God providing wisdom, guidance, and direction.

From that point on, it was done in heaven. It just needed to be done on earth. We entered negotiations. And with the helpful eye of my father's wisdom, business sense, and God’s direction, I stepped into the unknown and bought the business.

That was the start of what was Central Bindery in Phoenix, Arizona. I was 24 years old and had never been a business owner. I had little to no knowledge of the bookbinding industry. The one employee I hired as the supervisor was a printing machine operator. But I had one thing that trumped them all: I had God on my side. More accurately, I was on God's side. I didn't deserve it. I didn't earn it. Nevertheless, God allowed me to be part of what He was doing in my life and many other people's lives. For the next six years, I watched God be God.

The first few years of building the business were interesting. We ‘built the airplane’ while it was flying. There were some spins and stalls. God carried me/us at times. I was under construction, as was Central Bindery. But after three years, all the aspects of the business started coming together. Central Bindery became efficient and proficient. We expanded and bought new quality equipment the Phoenix printing industry had never seen. We formed the most outstanding team of people I have ever known in the business world.

By the time I was 29 years old, Central Bindery was the largest book bindery in Arizona, with 43 employees. The business was running as smoothly as any service business does. I should have been happy, right? I'd arrived - or so I thought. But something was stirring inside me. The season was changing. We don't change seasons; we adjust to them. My adjustment was to sell the bindery and go into church ministry. Central Bindery went on to stay in business for 47 years in Phoenix.

What was the key to this? God spoke, and I listened. It was the same principle as in the creation of the earth. “Let there be light,” and there was light. God was gently leading, still proceeding, guiding me to His dream for me and others.

Do you know what I learned in my twenties? God speaks today, not just in the Bible. God gives direction now, just like God did in the Bible then. I learned that divine wisdom was mine if I just shut my mouth and listened. I realized God whispers because God is close by. Now when I say, "God spoke to me," you might think, "That's weird and spooky” Don’t go there. Let me explain.

There are several main ways God speaks to people today. First, God speaks through the Bible, God's Word. Secondly, God can speak through the wisdom of others seasoned in their Christianity. Thirdly, God can speak through circumstances. When one door opens, and another closes, it could be God leading. Finally, God speaks through impressions on the inside of us. Do I have peace about the decision? Do I have a sense that God is leading? Do I have the confidence to go forward with this decision?  

I’m pretty good at hearing the biblically correct, spiritually accurate word of God. How did this occur? Through the many toils, trials, and snares of life. You can listen to God, too, especially in your twenties like I was. God can help you discover your own “I was born for this.” But, conversely, God can help you to find your “I wasn’t born for this.”

I realize not every story will end like mine, but with God, you have a more excellent resource than you could ever have by yourself. The real question is, "Whose voice will you listen to?" Why? Because not every voice out there in culture is on your side and your inside. I’ve learned the best sight is insight from the God of light.

Your takeaway: When opportunity wants to dance with you, you'd better be on the dance floor.   

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Ed Delph is a leader in church-community connections.
Visit Ed Delph's website at www.nationstrategy.com