Tip 3: The Bible is like Weight Watchers

Reading the Bible is a lot like losing weight: It’s good for you, but it requires discipline, and not everyone succeeds at it consistently. If we approached Bible-reading like Weight Watchers approaches weight loss, we might be more successful.

like Weight Watchers

Weight Watchers manages to rank well as an effective diet program because they’ve found an effective balance of certain key principles. The same principles are key to any difficult, long-term lifestyle change:

1. Balance accountability with encouragement

Accountability is important. But people shy away from it because when accountability is not done well, it turns into nagging. Accountability is most effective when it’s balanced with encouragement.

Weight Watchers. At a Weight Watchers meeting, accountability comes in the form of facing the scale—you weigh in each week, and that number gets recorded in your little book. But facing the scale is balanced with encouragement from your leader and from the rest of the group. Are you up two pounds? Ok, let’s talk about why—not to make you feel guilty, but to help you identify what’s working and what’s not, and to help you put a plan in place so you can get better results next week. Every week, you start where you are. You can start over as many times as you need to. No judgement.

Bible-reading. If you’re struggling to read the Bible faithfully, you probably need a group that can offer you accountability as well as encouragement. You need people who will ask you, “What have you read in the Bible today?” or even, “What things are keeping you from reading your Bible?” You need opportunities to identify what’s working and what’s not, and you need someone to encourage you to start over every time you go off-plan.

Which leads nicely to Balance #2—

2. Balance community support with personal responsibility

Americans place a high value on independence, initiative, and self-reliance, often to the neglect of community and inter-dependence. But balancing independence with community improves your success rate.

Weight Watchers. Key to the success of Weight Watchers is the support that group members get from each other. Groups meet weekly, and the best leaders involve their groups in each others’ lives—asking questions, exchanging recipes, cheering for successes. At the same time, everyone knows that between meetings they have to apply what they’ve learned or the scale will tell on them (see #1)!

Bible-reading. Many Christians don’t have a support system. Many believe that “personal devotions” should be, well, personal. But if your “personal” devotions aren’t happening, you probably need some community support. Try it! Not only will your Bible-reading be much richer in community with other people, it will also become more authentic, more effective, more consistent, and more fun.

3. Balance information with application

Sometimes people fail because they lack a certain kind of knowledge. Other times, people already know what they need to do, they just don’t do it. Both information and application are necessary for lasting life change.

Weight Watchers. A lot of people have heard that eating a piece of cheesecake is “bad for you” and eating a bowl of oatmeal is “good for you.” At a Weight Watchers meeting, you’ll spend time learning why. You’ll learn about Points and nutrients, and you’ll realize that using 15 Points on a piece of cheesecake might taste good, but in an hour you’ll be hungry again; while spending 3 or 4 Points on a bowl of oatmeal will fuel your body and keep you satisfied for most of the morning. There’s some science involved—all those secret formulas that help you track what you’re eating and how active you’re being—and group meetings are a good opportunity to share that information. But the information won’t make a difference if you don’t apply it (see #2).

Bible-reading. Some people know a lot about the Bible—they can recite verses and tell you where certain passages are found and win all the Bible trivia games. But they’re not living it. For example, they might know that the Bible says God doesn’t want us to steal (Exodus 20:15), but they come to work late, take long lunches, and head home early, essentially stealing from their employer. Without application, information is useless.

Speaking of application…

I think Weight Watchers succeeds because of these key balances. I think I need to apply these balances to my Bible-reading too.


12 thoughts on “Tip 3: The Bible is like Weight Watchers”

  1. I’ve really enjoyed your posts that compare the Bible in our lives to vitamins–we must get it “in” us, also to exercise–we must actually “do” the Bible reading, and to weight watchers–we need the accountability and encouragement from others. As you shared, the most important important part is application, living out God’s Word. If we say we trust God, our lives must show we trust God when things go our way and when things don’t. That’s the hard part, where trust goes from head to heart. The result? We come closer to God, to trusting Him no matter what. Safe-kept.

  2. Thanks Melanie,

    I think I got some of the accountability piece in place by blogging my response to the reading that I am doing. I know people are reading the blog (http://psalmthoughts.wordpress.com/) so it gives me the impetus to keep it up every morning and evening, as I said I would.


    • Hi Ken, I didn’t realize you had more than one blog! I enjoy your farminarian posts, but I didn’t know about your psalmthoughts blog. That’s a great blog idea! I have always liked journaling about my Bible reading, but the accountability piece isn’t there, so it’s easy for me to give up on it. A blog would be a good solution to that.

  3. Thanks for these excellent insights, Melanie! I so appreciate the sharing of God’s Word with other believers … from our pastors to our community group to my friends at work to my family. That is one of life’s greatest blessings!

  4. I think the hardest part about this is that you don’t really know any good groups that will fit your personal needs. Sure, you can go to church and join their groups, but, you meet once a week, and in the other six days, you could be totally slacking off. Also, let’s say you’re looking for a youth group. But, your church only has Sunday School for the kids, and things for adults. They don’t focus on the youth group, and if they do, they only have one. I’m not saying one isn’t enough, but, the thing is is that today’s generation won’t usually do things unless they’re rewarded. Yeah, I know reading and discussing the Bible may be rewarding, but not many teens/tweens realize that, because they’re so focused on music, or love, etc. etc.

    Do you know any good youth groups outside of church?

    • I’m gonna disagree with you on this one, Jerrie. I think “today’s generation” is much deeper than you give them credit for. They are not merely “consumers” of religion; they are looking to make a difference—and that’s their reward. My guess is that many teens and tweens choose not to attend church because the church does not demand enough of them.

      If you’re looking for a “good youth group” outside of church, why limit yourself to “youth groups”? I mean, you could take an art class or find a book club or volunteer at a shelter—something that will give you opportunities to relate to people of all ages, not just youth. It seems like that could be a richer experience than whatever a youth group can provide.

  5. Well, although I can agree with that, I’m not saying the generation today are self-centered airheads, by any means. I’m just saying alot more things influence us. But, you know, maybe they feel they don’t have to go to church…? I’m not really sure -_-
    And, I’m not trying to limit myself. But, like you said earlier, you should try to find some bible groups, and I’m trying to find one where I can relate to the people I’m with.

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