Todd Wagner, senior pastor and co-founder of Watermark Community Church in Dallas, Texas, who temporarily stepped down from his pulpit late last summer due to the sin of pride, revealed Sunday that he has resigned from his position in an emotional announcement to congregants.
“We are fully convinced that today, in the interest of Christ, for me and for my family, and for Watermark in this next season, it would be best served by me ending my season in serving as pastoral elder of Watermark Community Church,” Wagner said in a statement.
Wagner explained that he had been contemplating the decision to resign for more than a year, during a process “that I can only describe as miraculous.”
Church elders Kyle Thompson and Mickey Friedrich noted in a statement that Wagner’s resignation was submitted and accepted by the elder team on April 17, three weeks after longtime Watermark Community Church Elder David Leventhal resigned on March 26. Leventhal cited a lack of trust in Wagner’s ability to continue leading the megachurch.
“On March 26th, I shared this with the elders. I shared that the reason for my resignation was a loss of trust in Todd’s ability to lead in the role of pastoral elder and senior pastor, which was the direction the elders had been wanting to move to,” Leventhal said as Wagner rubbed his back and struggled to maintain his composure.
“I want you guys to hear that this has been a heartbreaking, exhausting and expensive process for me, for my wife, my family, the elder team.”
While citing his lack of trust in Wagner’s leadership abilities, Leventhal made it clear that “Todd and I are good. There is no anger, no wrath.”
Wagner also acknowledged that they were friends and is looking forward to continuing as a member of the church and serving as elder emeritus with Leventhal.
“Church, these last few days have been long and sad as we mourn the loss of serving alongside David and Todd as we once had. Both men have served our God and our church faithfully. However, amidst our grief we have seen clearly that God is sovereignly and providentially at work in the details of these transitions. Tangible evidence of God’s leading is the unity, alignment and peace He has provided all those involved,” Thompson and Friedrich wrote in their statement Sunday.
Wagner, a married father and grandfather, took a break from the pulpit for the first time in 20 years last year to work on his pride after it became a problem for his staff.
"It's not paid leave so I can read and write and relax as a reward for 20 years of service,” Wagner explained last year when he decided to take time off. “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.”
The pastor said he had gotten to a point in ministry where he was just not listening enough to his leadership team and failed to lead “with the usual grace in my relationships with my closest friends.”
“I’ve been short and irritable. I’m invalidating at times. I’m impatient enough that people were noticing a difference. And worse, I didn’t hear them when they asked me and said things like, ‘… Are you OK?’” Wagner explained, saying that he was dismissive at times.