Megachurch pastor steps back from ministry over sin of pride

Pastor Todd Wagner co-founded Watermark Community Church 20 years ago. He said he had been asked to "step back" temporarily to address his pride.(Photo: Facebook/Watermark Community Church)

Dallas Pastor Todd Wagner has announced he's taking a break from ministry to deal with the sin of pride.

Addressing his 11,000-strong megachurch, Wagner suggested that a pastor's sin did not need to be "scandalous" to justify a break from the pulpit. 

He stressed that it was just a temporary move and that he planned to return to the helm of Watermark Community Church, which he co-founded two decades ago. 

"For the first time in 20 years, I'm stepping back from what I usually do so I can do the hard work of hard work," he said.

"So don't be looking for some scandal. Don't even think this is scandalous.

"What is scandalous is when a Christian plays with, overlooks or welcomes sin, respectable or not." 

He said he had been discussing his sin with elders since June and that he had embarked on a time of repentance. 

"I thank God I have friends to help me. Pride kills," he said.

"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." 

Wagner then told the congregation he had noticed that he wasn't listening to his leadership team and that there wasn't the "usual grace in my relationships with my closest friends." 

He told the congregation that he was asking for their "forgiveness for several things." 

"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 just to slow down," he said.

"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.

"It's not paid leave so I can 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 admitted he had been "short and irritable" lately, as well as impatient to the point that "people were noticing a difference". 

"I'm invalidating at times," he said. 

Despite these issues, Wagner said he had not been asked to step down by the church leadership, but rather to "step back, step away." 

"We all agree this is what's best for me and for you and I think for us," he said.