You’ve heard the old adage about a team/chain is only as strong as its weakest member/link?  That simile or metaphor, depending how you use it, finally got to me and I had to think about it instead of just accepting it. That is when I realized that as a business or team model a chain is not how I wanted any organization to be run. Then I noticed that paradigms can come from our metaphors so “Life and Death is a power of the tongue” took on a whole new meaning.  After all when compared to a chain who wants to be the weak link and fail the whole team and cause everything to be ruined! No, pressure there right and what group after that simile has been laid on you has not looked around and started to predict who would be the first to break. Or have a bad day or week and see if that label ever leaves. And since this is a Bible Study blog I wondered about chains in the Bible.

Now an organization being pictured as a bunch of links working together is a valid image but not in a linear chain rather as chainmail. If a church or group is setup as a linear chain then the adage is true and the pressure is unbelievable on all of the links and it will eventually break.  A lesson that I learned in the book Good to Great is pick your team so that the “bus” can keep running in good or bad times.  Chainmail is a better model because in it every link is connected to someone, so even if one piece is hit it’s connected links will support it and the whole team does not break.

Here are thoughts on the adage of a linear link chain:

–        all the links look the same at the beginning

–        links fail due to stress but the strong links are incapable of helping the weak one

–       enough stress in a bind and any link can fail

–       links may fail because of external forces that eat away at it

–       links may fail because of an imperfection or an impurity in the metal

–       if a chain fails it cannot put itself back together, it takes a repairman to put in a replacement link

–       don’t mismatch links when making a chain

Now even in chainmail a link may fail and have to be replaced but the whole piece does not have to fall apart because of one piece.


Using my Strong’s Concordance I counted nineteen different words that are translated “chains.” One of those words, aboth, is translated also as rope and cord.  Before this study my first thought of  “chain” was a linear set of links used to restrain or link things together. This is a use of chains in the Bible especially in Judges 16:21 when the Philistines finally used chain instead of rope to bind Samson. But many of the references of chain are in connection with decorations especially things for human wear like necklaces, earrings and chainmail collars. The Old Testament has the most uses of the word chain and again many of those are for decorations; while in the Roman Empire controlled world of the New Testament the three words for chains all seem to reflect binding and restricting human movement and freedom.

Ropes and cords probably were used more than metal chains to bind people simply because cord was easier to make and less expensive.

Photos of chains are from http://www.stockvault.net/c/industrial/locks-and-chains/?p=2,  Photo of Egyptian chainmail http://www.flickr.com/photos/waltercallens/3465622123/

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