Todd Wagner is temporarily stepping down from his role as senior pastor of the Dallas, Texas, church he founded more than 20 years ago.
The reason for his sabbatical is the sin of pride.
“For the first time in 20 years,” he said from the pulpit Sunday, “I’m stepping back from what I usually do so I can do the hard work of hard work. So don’t be looking for some scandal. Don’t even think this is scandalous.”
“What is scandalous,” the preacher continued, “is when a Christian plays with, overlooks, or welcomes sin, respectable or not.”
Wagner went on to thank the close friends who have held him accountable in recent months.
“I would call what I’ve heard my friends describing and telling me pride,” he said. “That’s the sin. And it’s really interesting, because, you know, I don’t think of myself — or I fool myself into thinking I’m not a prideful person, because I never look in the mirror and clap.”
The pastor noted he has been discussing the issue with church elders since June. The group reached a decision regarding Wagner’s temporarily leave Sept. 6.
He is now seeking forgiveness from the Watermark congregation.
“I need to take some of your time to ask for your forgiveness for several things,” Wagner said. “First, for not being sooner and more attentive to myself especially during this season, but for a while, maybe even years, I have known I needed to just slow down. And I’ve been encouraged to slow down. I’ve even been given opportunities to slow down, and yet, these last months, all I’ve done is speed up.”
Wagner was certain to note his leave is not a paid time away to read and write and relax as a reward for 20 years of service.”
“What it is is a temporary rest from teaching and leading and anything else in the way of my letting the Lord strengthen me, restore me, and lead me to daily, greater repentance,” he explained.
The megachurch pastor — a father and grandfather — also clarified his leave is not the result of any sort of moral failure, noting his relationship with his family is very strong.
Beau Fournet, one of the church’s elders, expressed support for Wagner’s choice.
“Just want to be clear,” he said. “We share in unity because we always have unity if we’re at the foot of the cross. We’ve repented of every sin that was brought before us and that’s what Todd has done and that’s what we are doing with one another as often as we get together.”