What Makes People “Fired Up”?!

This is a generic question that warrants all manner of specific answers, but honestly, what does get a person fired up? Why do they get fired up? And heck, why do we even refer to this state as being all fired up?!

Well, I discovered that the phrase alone has origins beyond the scope of a mere Google search. In other words, I couldn’t find where it came from. However, I do know (and feel) what its meaning is: to ignite a response from deep within our core beings. When you think of a fire burning, you picture sparks of orange and yellow rising up from a central location. The fire was lit by something (a hand perhaps) and now that fire is engulfing any object it can in order to stay burning; be it wood, coal, or some other flammable substance. If fire were a living thing, we’d probably put it in the predatory category. In order for the fire to sustain itself, it must devour other things to survive. Not just eat either; devour. Because that’s what a fire does, it removes all evidence of the object it was lit upon. And whatever that object was before, it’s been changed forever from its original state.

So how does this apply to a person?

I like to think of those who get fired up as being people who are passionate about something. This passion could be a cause like, cancer research or volunteer work or even mentoring; matters that are linked directly to the heart of a person. These are core feelings boiling beneath the surface, just waiting to be “lit” into action. Once that fire is alive though, it has two potential paths: devour or multiply. The fire consumes all traces of what was there, spreading out amongst those who are close enough to the flame. Some may remain unaffected, like a hard stone sitting on the ground, but others may have a kindling that’s just waiting to be ignited. Once theirs is burning, they can’t help but feel alive now that the torch has been passed into them. On another part of the spectrum, you may find those who are burned by the flame of another. A person who gets “fired up” has a greater propensity to burn others; leaving a trail full of bitter and angry peers.

This is the great debacle of “getting fired up”. We are told to be passionate with what we do but we are also urged to have direction with our passions; a trait that fire doesn’t necessarily abide by. A wildfire does not stop until it has consumed all possible things in its path, stopping only once it has exhausted every available resource. Conversely, a fire that’s contained can provide warmth to any and all who gather around it. Those looking for light or guidance are led to the fire like a lost traveler in the night. And when they get there, they find others who at one time shared a cold or dark view of the world around them. This is the dual nature of a powerful flame; a purpose that’s designed for expansion, be it external or internal.

Obviously, we see these fires in people. There are those among us who shine brightly, drawing others near so as to give them warmth or protection. But there are those who are like wildfires, devouring everything (and everyone) in their path as they seek to expand their passion upon all those in their immediate vicinity (and beyond). If you ask someone who they’d rather befriend, I’m sure all of us would say the former. We’d prefer to be in the presence of a person who gives without the thought of receiving; someone who presents a warmly glow; someone who is passionate yet contained and directed in their endeavors so as to not burn those who huddle close by.

Ironically though, I feel like we have a hard time discerning between these two types of people.

We are quick to believe a loud mouth or a firm hand because it’s dynamic and obstructs our own views. We are taken with the pressure of others telling who to follow and what to listen to rather than looking inward at our own fire; and how it is yearning to be lit. We like the comfort of being told what to do, but criticize those in power for not understanding our own needs or desires; even if we have never voiced them openly. This is the inward cry of someone caught in a wildfire, I feel. To be powerless and without warmth because his own fire inside was never lit of his own accord; it was trampled on by another whose desires impeded the needs of his own heart. And so, he is now left to wander aimlessly; the fire gone, replaced with a charred space where the kindling used to be.

There are certain things in life that get us angry or upset, but this is not necessarily a sign of passion. If you’re “fired up” about something, then I would perceive this as being enthusiastic. Many online dictionaries describe “fired up” as being “aggravated” or even “aggressive” towards something so there can also be a negative connotation here. This, in my eyes, best describes the balance between a well-tended fire and a fire that is out of control. One type is indicative of passion and love; the other is a representation of spite, remorse, or anger. Is it good to be angry? Sure, but it is also easy to remain that way. Stay wound up too tight your whole life and you may eventually explode. Obviously that anger must get redirected. How does that emotion get channeled into creating light rather than expanding upon a burned landscape?

Well, I don’t have all the answers on that one, but it certainly must start with a look inward, not outward. What we see outwardly can be deceptive, but what’s inside tells us more of who we are and what we’re passionate for. Am I saying to not trust everything you hear? No, not exactly. I’m not big on overthinking or extreme analytics for the pursuit of more knowledge (even if I am the researching type) as this can get in the way of finding real truth. Yes, you should seek accurate information so as to be better informed, but that pursuit can be in itself like a wildfire of your own doings, crushing a straight and purposeful path in favor of one that is muddled with uncertainty. I am, however, in the thinking that if we recognize real warmth, deep to our core, then we know in our bones that a fire is lit there. One that is not meant to overtake us, but is meant for helping to light our own passions and eventually those of others. People crave community, yet the individual desires identity and individuality. Is there a way to receive both?

I get fired up about this topic more so than most other subjects. I find my continuing relationship with God to be a determining factor in my quest to be “on fire” (figuratively speaking). What does God want me to get fired up about? Am I conducting myself more like a light to others? Or am I merely just making my own agenda more important than theirs? I would hope this thought doesn’t make you lose sleep at night, but when you consider the reality of your everyday life, you must recognize the impact you have each and every moment you are breathing.

And that’s worth getting fired up about, is it not?


  1. Josh–regarding a fire “devouring”–I think you can also think of fire devouring all that is “impure” for the purpose of leaving something much purer and better. And–there’s that whole crazy thing of a “burning bush” where the fire doesn’t consume the bush. Random thoughts to throw into the “fire” of ideas…

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