When my son Davy joined his school’s cross-country team in his fourth-grade year, his great talent for running quickly became apparent. He placed high in races against other competitive runners, and we were very proud of him.
Davy was soon invited to join a running club some local coaches had started. It was a great opportunity, but there was one problem—many of the meets were on Sundays. So Davy turned down their invitation.
When Davy didn’t accept their invitation the next year, the coaches assumed my husband and I were preventing him from joining the club. But we let them know the choice was Davy’s own.
Davy’s answer to the coaches was, “I would really like to join the club, but I don’t run on Sundays.”
By the sixth grade, Davy had developed a real “kick” in his running that kept him among the top two or three runners in every school meet. Again came the invitation to join the running club. This time there was an added incentive—the boys were planning to go across the United States to compete in the national finals for their age group. The coaches and team members really wanted Davy to join them.
Davy received the priesthood and was ordained a deacon that year. When he discussed with us the invitation from the running club, we asked only, “Son, what about your priesthood responsibilities?”
Davy’s answer to the team was, “I need to be in church on Sundays.”
The club went to the national finals, competed against teams from all over the country, and won; they were the national champions. When the boys returned home, the school, the parents, and the club coaches were ecstatic with their accomplishment. The school held a special assembly with newspaper reporters and TV cameras. They called the boys up one by one as loud applause rang from the audience.
Davy sat and watched as each boy received the recognition that might have been his had he chosen differently. My heart ached for him as I saw the tears in his eyes. I tapped him on the shoulder, and we left the cheering crowd. In a secluded spot, I held him tight, and we cried together for a moment. Then I told him how proud I was of him. Davy had done what Heavenly Father expected of him. The admiration of the crowd and the recognition of the world are powerful attractions, but they have little to do with our eternal progress.
A few days later, I shared Davy’s experience with a friend. Shortly afterwards, my friend sent Davy a letter, along with a trophy. On the trophy was inscribed, “Davy: A Champion of Youth.”
The letter read: “You were given agency to choose. Thank you for your example. You are truly a champion.”