It is the question Jesus asked Peter. It is the question every member asks the elder.
When we become an elder, the tasks of the office loom before us. We will have to attend meetings, engage in church management, arrange visits with members, and take on leadership responsibilities. If you are a first time elder, these responsibilities can be overwhelming.
But the key question, the one Jesus asked Peter, is more central to the ministry of elder: Do you love me? Answering this question requires us to look Jesus in the eye. We need to see that extent of His love, the desire for our salvation and the salvation of our neighbour, and the deep concern for our well-being. When we look in his eye, returning his love with our love, ministry is no longer a set of tasks and meetings. It is a way of walking with Jesus in divine love for the world.
Not only does Jesus ask this question. While very few would actually put this in words, members do want to know: Do you love me? People are loved into wellness. People are loved into growth. And we who want to pour the love of Christ into the lives of members and neighbours can only do so when we love them.
So look at the congregation. Imagine each one asking you the simple question: do you love me? Imagine Jesus saying: do you love me?
Saying “you know, I love you” is at the heart of all ministry.