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ChatGPT, Billy Graham and you

Pexels/Matheus Bertelli
Pexels/Matheus Bertelli

In just one weekend, I hired a new writer, translator, coder and research assistant.  We are just now beginning the onboarding process, but honestly, I feel like I am the one who needs to be brought up to speed.  

These new hires are different. How so, you ask. Well for start, this wasn’t a team hire. I didn’t hire four employees. I hired just one individual — one very bright individual.  

I am confident that she will continue to grow in her competence to fulfill her responsibilities, but I’m not so confident that I will be able to keep up with her increasing measure of efficacy and professionalism.   

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Let me say, she isn’t perfect. I have spotted an error from time to time in her work, but this new hire doesn’t get defensive or become discouraged, she just keeps soldiering on. It’s incredible. If anything it’s I who becomes discouraged, because I can’t seem to provide assignments fast enough for her. Her work ethic is unmatched and jaw-droppingly fast! 

And, I know you will likely not believe me when I tell you this next part, but this new hire insists on working for free — FREE! Well, at least for now anyway. Let me break it down.  She is busy doing thankless work around the clock for me and she has said no to: vacation days, insurance, maternity leave, or better office space, in addition to her not taking a penny in return. 

Who might this new hire be? You guessed it — ChatGPT.  

I opened an account with ChatGPT this weekend. And, I hate to say it, but I am reluctantly impressed. As a campus pastor at North Greenville University, I have the unfair advantage of listening to and engaging young adults in conversation week after week. I hear their thoughts. I sympathize with them. I encourage them. I try to prepare them for what’s coming around the bend. And this latest technological addition to our world is as significant as the internet, GPS, or the cell phone, but sadly, everyone in the professional world is afraid to talk about it.  After all, isn’t Artificial Intelligence scary? Won’t it be the end of academic integrity? 

But, make no mistake, it is here. Or, at least, it’s kind of here.  

I am old enough to remember the phone in the bag, followed by the flip phone, followed by the smartphone on which I write this article. I remember life before the internet, social media, and smartphones. Wow, you must say, this guy is old.  Not really. I’m 39. I turn 40 this year.   

The point is this, I have lived through these changes and honestly, these changes have changed me.  It didn’t happen overnight, but eventually, I suctioned my first GPS to the windshield of my car and removed the crumpled map of South Carolina from my glove box. Over time, I retired the suction-secured GPS and decided to just use my smartphone. Today, I don’t think twice about vehicular navigation, unless I am traveling all day and need a car charger. This technology has changed me.

Oh no! Have I caved to worldly pressure?  

Billy Graham once said “World events are moving very rapidly now. I pick up the Bible in one hand, and I pick up the newspaper in the other, and I read almost the same words in the newspaper as I read in the Bible.” I’m not sure how many people still read the newspaper today, but Graham’s point still rings loud and clear — the Bible isn’t just accurate it’s up-to-date!   

I am currently over to the side waving my hands around like a madman, saying, “ChatGPT is here! It’s free! It’s functional! And, it’s getting better each day!” Are you open to this kind of hire? Will you put this new technology to use? Or are you, like me, reluctantly disposing of the Kodak wind-up camera after 20+ years of dust collection? Maybe, I should pray about it. Maybe, I should ask ChatGPT about it. Ahhh! What do I do?

Jesus said in John 14:1-3 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God, believe also in me.” Graham ministered during the days of the moon landing, the Vietnam War, and the Kennedy assassination, and his message was consistent — believe in Jesus Christ! If our faith is in the government, military, or technology, I think we have every right to be troubled by ChatGPT and all emerging technologies for that matter. But, if our faith is in Jesus, we can look beyond the “silicon age,” and say with the saints of old, “Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand” (Proverbs 19:21).  

I’m not sure I’ll continue to use ChatGPT. It still gives me the willies. At the present, I’m even on a social media fast. But I’m fairly confident that I’ll continue to use cell phones, the internet, and GPS. The world is changing, and I’m OK with that. The same God that stabilized Billy Graham through tumultuous times is the same God that I serve. Christians, this is our time to “let not our hearts be troubled,” by ChatGPT or anything else coming down the technological pike. We believe in Jesus, and this belief has not just transformed us today, but this belief has transformed us for tomorrow. So, let’s be bold enough to believe that God is bigger than ChatGPT.            

Joshua Gilmore serves as the director of Community Connection and Ministry Mobilization at North Greenville University. Gilmore earned both his BA and MA at NGU (Christian Studies - 2005 & Christian Ministry - 2007). Gilmore continued his study at Columbia International University and earned his Educational Specialist degree (Ed.S) in Christian Higher Education in 2016. Prior to serving at NGU, Gilmore was a youth pastor in the Chicago area, professor/administrator at a small college of missions, and a music minister in New Jersey. Gilmore loves to be with his wife and three daughters, go on outdoor adventures, and passionately serve Christ through teaching, leading, and creating.

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