ChatGPT Sermons, Third-Wave Productivity, Scrolling Your Phone, & More

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Dear steward,

Here’s your weekly roundup of resources and insights to help you on your journey to becoming a more productive Christian.

Two things before we dive in.

First, we have our “Well Done” Workshop happening today at 12 PM EDT. In this free 90-minute webinar, I’ll help you develop a Christ-honoring vision statement for your life that you can use to set goals, make decisions, and say no to distractions.

Second, Redeeming Productivity Academy registration closes this Saturday. There’s more information about that below. We’d love to have you join us this summer!

Alrighty, let’s get into this week’s Roundup!

In Today’s Issue:

  • Why ChatGPT Can’t Produce Great Sermons
  • Third-Wave Productivity
  • Better Than Scrolling Your Phone in the Morning
  • Something I Like
  • New on RP

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The best links I found this week

Why ChatGPT Can’t Produce Great Sermons (4 mins)

Aaron M. Shamp / The Gospel Coalition

When ChatGPT became publically available, one of the first things I tried with it was to see if it could write a sermon. I was honestly shocked at how good the result was. With scandals over plagiarized sermons still in recent memory, it wasn’t a stretch to think that some time-strapped pastor might think it was a good idea just to let AI write his sermons for him.

Shamp gets to the heart of the matter in this article. Sure, AI can produce acceptable application from a text of Scripture, but it cannot and never will be able to produce a great sermon. Because sermons are more than the mere transfer of knowledge. As Shamp argues:

  1. Sermons require communion with God.
  2. Sermons require knowledge of people.
  3. Sermons require the anointing of God.

While I do believe there are useful applications for LLMs like ChatGPT—I use AI in my own daily workflows—the act of preparing and delivering a sermon is an application that fundamentally cannot be accomplished by a machine, no matter how advanced it becomes. AI can imitate good language, but it cannot replace the Spirit.

Third-Wave Productivity (3 mins)

Shawn Blanc / The Sweet Setup

The genre of personal productivity has evolved over the years. Shawn looks at the three waves of personal productivity according to Cal Newport:

  • Wave 1: Efficiency
  • Wave 2: Intentionality
  • Wave 3: Meaning

I discuss this history some in my book and would agree with Shawn that the big issue in this third wave of productivity is clarity. If what I want is meaningful work, how do I define what meaningful work is?

I think this question is all the more important for Christians. Because we believe meaning is not subjective. We don’t make meaning; we discover it. Because God is the source of meaning. God has told us why we are here. And so connecting our work to our great mission of glorifying Him is how we find satisfaction, purpose, and meaning in even the lowliest job. Our work is meaningful because it is a vehicle by which we honor God and serve others.

That’s why creating something like a “Well Done” statement can be so helpful because it articulates why your work (and every domain) matters in the context of your life stewardship. Yes, it gives you the clarity that saves you from meaningless busywork and overwhelm. And, yes, it gives you the pleasure of feeling your work is meaningful. But most importantly, it actually makes it meaningful. Because you are using your work to fulfill your reason for existence. You’re glorifying God through your work.

Better Than Scrolling Your Phone in the Morning (19 mins)

John Piper / Desiring God

Piper makes a compelling case for skipping your phone in the morning.

But first, he asks why we reach for our phones first thing in the morning. He points to what he calls “candy” motives:

  1. Novelty Candy – I want something new
  2. Ego Candy – I want affirmation. Who liked my post since last night?
  3. Entertainment Candy – I want amusement.
  4. Boredom Avoidance – I want to be distracted.
  5. Responsibility Avoidance – I want to hide.
  6. Hardship Avoidance – I want something easy.

But the phone does not answer these desires, at least not for long. The emptiness persists and is often magnified by starting your day with scrolling. Instead, Piper argues:

“What we want in the morning routine is to be filled with the Holy Spirit. We want something that gives us a zeal for the glory of Christ for the day’s work. We want to be strengthened to face whatever the day may bring. We want something that gives us joyful courage to resolve to count others better than ourselves and pursue true greatness, like Jesus said, by becoming the servant of all. That’s the real agenda in the morning.”

🖋Quote of the Week

“Much of the glory of God appears in the works of creation and providence, but much more in the gospel, where it shines in the face of Jesus Christ.”

– Matthew Henry

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