The Choice

Matt Shaner
3 min readJan 14, 2024

Was there a fork in the road moment where you realized you no longer wanted to be acceptable, you wanted to be exceptional?” -Aaron McManus

What if we’ve had the question wrong the whole time?

What if life is a choice between acceptance and exceptional?

We raise children with a focus on being good citizens, on following routines, on learning how to operate by taking direction and rote memorizations. We frown on outliers.

We are called to be outliers. We are called to the fringes. Jesus spent his time there, eating and conversing with the outcasts. He stood against the ruling bodies of the day, spoke in defiance to religious leaders stammering to keep status quo, knew what was coming and did it anyway.

Faced death.

And did it anyway.

The quote above from Aaron McManus was from the most recent episode of the Mind Shift Podcast. He was interviewing his father about growing up.

It’s a question we all must ask ourselves.

Photo by Oliver Roos on Unsplash

The chase for acceptance is tiring. In this day and age, it is impossible. Everyone in your audience will be offended by something. Life is not a popularity contest.

We are called to be exceptional. It takes courage. It takes following a dream, chasing a vision, being the crazy one in the room, standing against a tide of disapproval.

Looking down reality and saying I’m going to do it anyway.

Standing at the road when everyone is trying to get you to see the sensible thing, to save yourself, to go back to the couch and just get comfortable, to not shake things up, picking up your cross and starting the long walk forward. And you can’t pick it up until you’ve laid everything down first.

Jesus tells us to follow him. Lay down our lives. Be salt and light in a bland and dark world.

We are called to do great and meaningful things. We are called to change lives, to plant seeds in those we love that will grow and spread out to impact generations for a thousand years.

It is an important reminder this season:

Jesus did not come to be accepted. He did not come to win a popularity contest, to land feature films and magazine covers, he did not come to helm a political party or land in the White House.

Jesus came to a manger at the crux moment of all recorded history, the thunderous impact of the divine into reality, the hands that hold the universe descending to break into our time and space on a cold night. Meager surroundings celebrated by a chorus of angels and fretted over by King Herod because he knew the True King had arrived.

Jesus came to upend traditions, give true freedom, stand against the darkness, break chains and free captives. He came to dreamers and visionaries, to regular people and lit them on fire by seeing into their hearts changing their existence.

Opening blind eyes, healing limbs, clearing disease, raising the dead.

These are not acts of acceptance. They are a revolution.

They are a revolution open to all. A transaction waiting. His sacrifice for your sins. A trade off of grace that opens the doors to eternity.

Someone out there needs to read this today. Here’s your sign. You’ve chased acceptance long enough.

It’s time for the exceptional.



Matt Shaner

Matt Shaner is a writer, husband, father, and believer living outside Reading, PA. You can find his blog and other writings at