When David Archuleta made his run to the finals of "American Idol" in 2008, he sang for millions of people every week.
He had a positive impact on legions of fans that supported and advanced him to his runner-up finish. They later purchased his albums and tracked his journey on Facebook, Twitter and through his YouTube channel. They attended concerts, firesides and rooted for his success.
It’s tough to quantify the positive impact this young man has had on millions of eyes, ears and hearts.
But you already know that story.
You also know that he recently put his career and professional dreams on hold to serve a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in South America. It’s inspiring that during this crucial time in his career, at the ripe age for stardom, he’s hitting the pause button on his temporal life to serve the Lord.
It’s hard to gauge the enormous impact he will have on the people he serves, teaches and fellowships for the next two years.
But you already know that story, too.
What you don't know is what David did in the final weeks before saying goodbye to serve and have an impact on his smallest audience of all: one.
On Jan. 17, 2012, I wrote a column about Ashley Evans of Berryville, Va. She’s a beautiful young woman who inspires many around her, and the piece about her journey from tragedy to triumph has been one of my most popular editions of Wright Words. Evidently she inspired many of you, too.
Among other personal tidbits about Ashley, I reported that she’s a big fan of David’s. After the article appeared in the Deseret News, Scott McGavin, a good man in his own right and David’s dentist and close family friend, sent it to him to ensure he would meet the Ashley that readers around the country were falling in love with.
David apparently loved the piece, but it had everything to do with the lovely subject, and nothing to do with the wordsmith.
In the height of preparing for his mission, with all that entails, David took the time to assemble a care package of goodies for one of his biggest fans. With Dr. McGavin’s help, he sent several signed pictures, a limited-edition drawing and a photo of a fundraising brick placed in Ashley’s honor at a dental clinic in India. He even wrote a personal note on one of the photos and quoted Ashley from my original column.
Perhaps to you it seems a small gesture, but to Ashley and her family it was a tremendous act of kindness. Ashley’s smile was so big and bright when she opened the envelope, David might have seen it from across the country if only he’d been looking out his window that morning.
It was a measure of kindness she’ll remember for many years.
As for David, he’ll spend the next two leading many people to the waters of baptism. In doing so, he’ll help them take a vital step toward returning to live with our Father in Heaven.
Down the road, David will resume singing, producing music and maybe even dabble in film and television.
But of all his many accomplishments already written in the newspapers of heaven and earth, plus those yet to come, none is more important than the one simple stroke of kindness performed when the world wasn’t looking. What a lesson that the world isn't changed in the millions of albums sold, books published or deals closed.
A lifetime from now, David will be remembered by many of us for many more memorable things. But to some of us, he'll be remembered for a divine reminder: you can impact the world for good, one person at a time.
Jason F. Wright is a New York Times best-selling author of eight books, including "Christmas Jars," "The Wednesday Letters" and "The Wedding Letters." He can be reached at [email protected] or www.jasonfwright.com.