I’m co-president of a club at school which recently raised a large amount of money for charity. It was a lot of work but we were all so excited with what we were able to do together. My problem is that the other co-president is taking all the credit for herself. And her parents recently spoke to the local paper to publicize our work and they only listed their daughter as president. I’m angry and hurt and really confused. What should I do?!
– Bitter and Betrayed in Baltimore
See I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. So be as cunning as serpents and as innocent as doves.
This falls into the category Dear Gabby calls “baptism by fire.” And what Gabby means by that is that you have just experienced something that you will likely encounter many times over in your lifetime – otherwise known as “stealing your thunder.” But no matter what you call it or how many times it happens, it still smarts. So what are we to do about it? Well, you have a couple of options. First, and the most frequently chosen option, is to do nothing. You can go about your day and do what you always do, confident that the people who really matter know the truth. A job well done is still a job well done. Or, you can try to outwit your co-leader by contacting a larger paper that may be happy to run this fantastic human interest story. But then you have to decide if you’re going to play by her rules and omit her name this time around. Hmmm. And finally, there’s the old favorite of having it out with this co-leader. Gabby isn‘t referring to a slap match so much as a war of words. But before you choose any path in matters like this, Gabby first would like to ask: In two years, or five years, or ten years time, will any of this really matter?” In Gabby’s opinion, the Gospel gives us a wonderful map for how to negotiate our world and still maintain our Christian ethics. In Mark, Christ tells us to go out and be disciples, knowing full well that we will be living like sheep among wolves. Disciples are told to repeatedly turn their cheek to offenses. This is a holy ideal but can also be problematic to implement. It’s tough out there! So even though these words were given to us over 2,000 years ago, we can take comfort in the fact that Christ knew that and so He also warns us not to be doormats for the wolves of this world. Be smart about it, He says, like serpents in the grass. But like defenseless doves, never give up your innocence. What He means is that in the balancing act of life and discipleship, don’t become a wolf yourself. So with that advice to guide you, what Gabby suggests is a sort of buffet of responses to your current situation. Perhaps together with some of your club members, at your next group meeting, you could let your co-leader know of your unexpected disappointment over her public posturing. If there is a teacher-sponsor or advisor, perhaps she could help contain this discussion. It will be harder for your co-leader to enjoy her moment of glory if she knows that it is built on a false foundation. Then you could initiate another article with the proper information, maintaining your ethics and setting an example of what real leadership looks like. Finally, you could refer back to option #1, which is to let it go. Forgive and move on. You didn’t raise the money for the charity to gain recognition, did you? The good deed you set out to do was done well: mission accomplished. Forget the rest. Approached in that manner, the memory of the offense is likely to dim in a few years time, but what you will have learned and taught to others will last a lifetime.