As a ventriloquist, I have quite a few puppets, and I use them to help teach Bible lessons. Last night Laura and I came to an interesting realization about my interactions with the puppets. First, though -- some information about my puppets...
I have three puppets that I consider to be younger than me -- they are a dodo bird, a wolf, and a French-speaking boy.
I have two puppets that I consider to be significantly older than me -- Doctor Jonas, and my hard-of-hearing, three-toothed Uncle Jim.
As we were chatting about the puppets last night, here is what we realized: Without consciously choosing to do it this way, when I have the "younger" puppets out, I always teach them a Bible lesson, but when I have the "older" puppets out...they are the ones who always teach me a Bible lesson.
Without conscious thought in the matter, I've been modeling for my audiences the concept of respect for elders, and willingness to be taught and guided by those with more years and more experience.
Now, I'm not saying that it's not possible for the younger to teach the older; in fact, I often am teaching folks who are older than me, including occasional church services at nursing homes. But in our culture of youth, where the measure of your worth seems to be inversely proportional to your age, I think it is good to model a different sort of behavior -- even if it is "just a puppet."
I love this oft-forgotten, rarely quoted verse from Leviticus:
So even though they're just puppets, I'll continue to let Uncle Jim and Doctor Jonas teach me important life lessons from scripture.
Note: Writing this article reminded me of an article I posted elsewhere, which I think is worth reading again -- especially the section on respect: Teaching Senior Citizens