November 17; Who Should Never Be Empowered?
365 Daily Bible Verse &
One-Minute Management Lessons For The Busy Faithful


17 November

Do not get drunk on wine,

which leads to debauchery.

Instead, be filled with the Spirit,

Ephesians 5:18

Who Should Never Be Empowered?


The fourteen young men got drunk, raised a stink and were expelled from the University. One of the scofflaws was a great-grandnephew of the University’s former Rector and grandest benefactor. A rare example where money, prestige and power didn’t work.

It was that bad.

The rioting drunks were confronted by the faculty,

When two professors arrived to investigate the riot and tried to unmask one student, they were welcomed by profanities and worse. The first was attacked with a cane and the second had a brick thrown at him.

To add insult to physical injury, sixty-five students signed a resolution the following day condemning the two professors for daring to unmask the student. (Carney 2009)

Hannah, a Division 1 athlete at the University of Virginia, explained, “Too much alcohol, too much freedom and too little control.” Your Business Professor begins to understand. Slowly, as usual.


We in academia and journalists and consultants are far too quick to condemn managers for not “empowering” employees. The best bosses push responsibility down the org chart as close as possible to the individual doing the work. The employee simply needs the freedom and motivation to do the tasks and he will embrace the opportunity to control his work and his destiny. Right?

Not always.

The students, who came from the best families accustomed to privilege as any modern millennial, were not ready for any responsibility more complicated than uncorking a wine bottle.


St. Thomas Aquinas tells us ‘subsidiarity’ in governance is where law, rule and regulation should be crafted by and those closest to the citizens so affected. The University attempted to ‘empower’ the students with freedom from adult supervision. The University got anarchy for its “wisdom in delegation.”

This is the fear and balance with which managers struggle and that non-managers never seem to understand. Yes, delegate. But only to competent staff. There is all too often a competency-deficiency and too little management time.

Benjamin Franklin said that, “Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom.” Or, it could be said, only virtuous staff are capable of self-management.

The best managers find this balance. This is why the best managers command outrageous compensation: this balance is nearly impossible to calibrate.


Even Thomas Jefferson, the third president and founder of UVA, had trouble.

Rising in the famous rotunda in the presence of the current and former U.S. presidents James Madison and James Monroe, and facing the “drunken fourteen,” Jefferson began by declaring that what had happened was one of the most painful events of his life.

But then, overcome with emotion and with tears in his eyes, he couldn’t continue and had to sit down. The others took over, the meeting proceeded, and the “rioting fourteen” were expelled including Jefferson’s relative.

On Jefferson’s recommendation, strict regulations were adopted: Every student must rise at dawn, stay in his room after 9 p.m., wear a uniform, and deposit his funds with the proctor, who would provide small sums. Gambling, smoking, and drinking were prohibited. So much for freedom and self-government.

Brian Carney explains in Freedom, Inc.,

This is the kind of story that haunts liberating leaders. Here are people finally treated as equals, but instead of assuming the freedom and responsibility that goes with it, they revolt.

The self-governed freedom the leader envisioned turns into anarchy, and he who wanted to make no more decisions is called back to assume the role of the authoritarian, which he loathes. (Carney 2009)

If a man cannot control his drinking he probably cannot control anything more. The irresponsible man lacking internal discipline will need outside controls and limits.

Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Sprit, Ephesians 5:18


Thomas Carney, Brian M.; Getz, Isaac (2009-10-05). Freedom, Inc.: Free Your Employees and Let Them Lead Your Business to Higher Productivity, Profits, and Growth (p. 126-127). Crown Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.


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