Set Yourself on Fire

Dan Miller —  October 22, 2012 — 5 Comments

John Wesley was not a nice conservative, conforming, Republican Christian.  Because he was so controversial, he was forbidden by the Anglican Church to preach from its pulpits.  Did he wring his hands, admit defeat and fade silently out of history? Just go keep his day job? Not exactly.  With no pulpit welcoming him he would ride out into the countryside, pick a spot in an open field, and begin to preach.  john-wesley-preachingHe was so compelling with his message and his presentation that large crowds began to show up to hear him.  Listeners wanted to hear more of what he had to say and ultimately his thought-provoking theological ideas became the founding principles of the Methodist Church.

Someone once asked Wesley how he was able to attract such large crowds with his preaching.  Wesley responded, “I simply set myself on fire and people come to watch me burn.”

You may be doing great work.  You may be responsible, ethical, and compassionate.  But is it remarkable?  Do you do anything with such passion that people would travel to watch and listen?  Maybe you don’t have a message to share or a product to sell.  But if you do – if you have a business or a service you provide – you’ll never get the marketplace more excited than you are.  You have to show your own belief and passion about what you’re offering.  Remember, professional selling is simply sharing enthusiasm.  Incidentally, John Wesley averaged preaching 15 sermons a week.  Not just one 28-minute sermon on Sunday morning.

If you are not working with passion and drawing a crowd, chances are you are drawing on your ability only.  In Wisdom Meets Passion I describe how passion flows out of the blending of:

  1. Skills & Abilities – you have the ability to do many things.  I have known lots of physicians, attorneys, dentists and pastors who have proven their raw ability to perform in their profession – but have no passion for what they do.
  2. Personality Traits – you can embrace your uniqueness.  If you are bold and outgoing, then use those characteristics to be your best.  If you are introverted and shy, then use systems and technology to show your brilliance.
  3. Values & Dreams – you may think your dreams are unrealistic or just common and ordinary.  But if you are a wood sculptor, an artist, a bookkeeper, a teacher or a great mom, then do it in a way that is remarkable where people will remember and talk about you.

Now, go set yourself on fire.

  • kimanzi constable

    Wow, that is powerful. “I set myself on fire and people come to watch me burn” that is true passion, I need that kind of passion!

  • Tammy Helfrich

    “I simply set myself on fire and people come to watch me burn.” Wow. Loved that. Looking forward to reading your book.

  • Christopher Battles

    We all burn, but often without a flame and then we just are burned out…versus here burning with a passion.
    Thank you for this example Dan.

    K, bye

  • Jared Latigo

    Love this! What an awesome message…so what I needed to hear right now! Thank you yet again!

  • Mark J Cundiff


    Great post! Especially love the line “you’ll never get the marketplace more excited than you are” Great reminder that the message we communicate with our passion can indeed be the most important message of all.