My associate, Adam, and I are working on a series of lessons on the Incarnation of Jesus for presentation to our church family. We were reading from Robert Farrar Capon's book on the parables of Jesus and found a great discussion concerning how God uses power. It struck us with such force that we decided to build an entire lesson around the concept.
Basically right-handed power is the use of sufficient force necessary to get the desired result. It is helpful in many situations in life, therefore everyone uses right-handed power. But right-handed power is particularly ineffective in one area - anytime you care more about the relationship than about specific results, right-handed power can be more harmful than helpful. That is the time you need to use left-handed power, which is the willingness to give others the freedom to get with your program - or not! This is the power which God most often uses, giving us freedom and asking us to make wise choices. But if we don't, he does not come down hard on us, but continues to give us freedom and space. Although Paul said, "the love of Christ compels us..." that compulsion is completly free.
Capon cites the idea of right-handed and left-handed power as an idea he gleaned from Martin Luther. I have not done the research to verify that, but I am thankful that Capon turned me on to this idea, for I need to remember how God uses his power in my life, and then I need to make sure that I am willing to use left-handed power in my relationships - even when it leads to the cross. That is the highest example of using left-handed power - and living to tell about it!