A Nudge on the Tiller (Not Revolution)

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August 2022

A Nudge on the Tiller (Not Revolution)

by Michael Volland, Principal of Ridley Hall

In this extract from his newly published short book, Ridley Principal Michael Volland encourages readers to consider our motivations and the long-term ramifications before taking the plunge into revolutionary organisational change.

Very occasionally it is obvious that radical change is needed in a church or institution. The community has become stuck or drifted so far off course that nothing short of a revolution will release new energy and refocus people’s hearts, minds and behaviours on the main thing.

Revolutions are dramatic and exciting and the idea of rapid, radical change is seductive, particularly when, as a leader, the alternative looks like a slow death for you and your people.

But revolutions are also chaotic and bloody and often come at great cost to both instigators and communities. Revolutions may force change but, sooner or later, those involved must face the inescapable task of rebuilding something worthwhile and lasting from the rubble. This involves the hard work of drawing alongside others and working out, often at length, what shape life together in the ‘new’ era is going to take. There will be negotiation and compromise. Healing must be part of the process. It may take months and even years. Revolution is never a quick fix. If radical change via revolution is called for, those involved must proceed with wisdom, care and patience. If you are of a revolutionary disposition, I encourage you to think about whether you are genuinely prepared to put in the real work after the excitement has died down and the rebuilding begins.

When you are the leader, for the most part, it is not revolution that is required, but a regular nudge on the tiller of each sphere of work. Since you will have multiple fronts open at any one time, generally you won’t have the capacity for revolution. Initiating necessary changes, guiding and supporting others and generally encouraging the community to keep moving towards God’s hopeful future involves a regular, considered nudge and a lot of patience. This also means that you are more likely to retain people’s trust and move at a pace they can cope with.

May you receive the wisdom each day to understand how best to nudge the tiller.

To download a free digital copy of Accepted in the Beloved, go to: www.ridley.cam.ac.uk/accepted