What is a Shepherd to Do?

What is a Shepherd to Do?

One of the most frustrating things of being a Pastor is watching people fall away from church and serving God. Some, we see do the same thing, the same cycle, if you will, over and over again. They come to church for awhile, get on fire for God and they attend church regularly, they announce to everyone how "real" it is this time, that they are done with that old way... time to make new friends, say good bye to those who have been a part of dragging them down... and so on. They mean well. They really want to serve God. But they want to do it their way. They think "once they've become stronger" they can go back to those old friends, those old activities... and stay on fire for God. But it cannot be done. And as their Pastor, when you try to warn them and tell them that you see them heading down that same old path again, they usually get mad... or at least blow off the warnings. They "know better."  It is "different this time."  But they are fooling no one but themselves. I think of one person that for the last few years, I've told them "every time you start (this activity) and hang with (a person) it is only a matter of time before you are drifting away from God, shirking your responsibilities, missing church, stop reading your Bible and you end up far away from God." And every time I give this warning, I get attitude, ignored and treated like I being judgmental.
Hello? Shepherd tending to his flock, trying to keep them from wandering off where they become easy prey to the wolves of the world? Is not this what a good shepherd does? But over and over again, the advice is ignored and all I can do is wait until the next crash and burn. There is simply nothing else that a Pastor can do.
It hurts. 
It hurts to be ignored when you see the danger coming.
It hurts to watch one you love turn their back on you and the God they swore they'd serve with reckless abandon... once again to go their own way, thinking they have it all figured out and this time they can manage it all better. But you know how the outcome will be. In fact, after every cycle and crash, they admit that deep inside they know that the friend and activity is a hindrance to the spiritual life, and they they must let go of these things. Yet a few months later.. there they go again.
What is that definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over but expecting a different result!
As pastor, all you can do is pray and hope they come to their senses before this crash is bigger or worse than the last.

I get so tired of sitting with people after the crash and listening to their stories of pain and tragedy. 
I'm tired of comforting the broken hearted teen girl who once again lost her way and gave her self to another boy who promised their love would be forever... but it wasn't.
I'm tired of counseling couples whose marriage is now on the rocks... when I warned them that I saw it coming when they started laying out of church and making poor choices. 
I'm tired of the mothers of kids calling me to tell me their daughter is pregnant or their son has gotten someone pregnant, when I warned them long before that they were allowing their kids to go down the wrong path.

Why is it that the same ones who maligned you and talked evil of you (as pastor) suddenly want you and your advice when the world comes crashing down on them?

We are idiots, know it all's, got big noses, haters and names I will not repeat here when we warn them that they are heading the wrong way. Yet we are the first to be contacted when all Hell breaks lose in their homes and families.

Yet, once again... I am forced to sit back and watch one of my sheep start down that path which leads to the same cycle of destruction... and in anger, we are told how wrong we are... and all I can do I cry and pray for protection.

I hope I am wrong. But I know the path of righteousness... and that's not it.