Thankfully the phrase used by some parents, “Children are to be seen and not heard” is no longer a popular piece of parenting advice. Similar phrases and slogans have become assumptions passed down from one generation to the next without taking the time to discover their demeaning result. Yes, children need to know when to politely enter a conversation, but relegating a child to a life of silence among adults dishonors them and presents an image of a god who perpetually sees them as an interruption. Jesus said to not hinder children from coming to Him. Jesus knew children would approach Him with undeveloped social skills and it did not bother Him.
Imagine if God were to say, “I want my children to be seen and not heard.” A prohibition against a two-way conversation with God would effectively create a relationship of silence and it would kill the rise of any future prayer movement where talking with God is central to its mission. The “seen and not heard” kind of comment is not alone. We all can find ourselves parroting other equally foolish and unthinking phrases without considering their content and affect.
As 2016 rises on the horizon of your calendar take some time to review the words you speak – many made with innocent assumption – and check their validity and place in your vocabulary. There are similar phrases you may need to review and reconsider to see if they should remain in your future conversations. This review and reconsideration is part of the renewal process of our thinking. When you challenge these assumptions you will upset some people. That’s OK. This is the substance of a two-way conversation where we learn how to grow in grace with each other. It also helps to keep our voice sounding credible to a world tired of worn-out religious cliché.