Jim Burgen, the lead pastor of the Lafayette-based Flatirons Community Church, announced he would immediately step down for the next six months to “take a breath” from what he characterized as the mounting tolls of 13 years at the helm of an ever-expanding megachurch.

Burgen, through occasional tears, suggested in a video posted to the church’s official YouTube account on Sunday that the sabbatical comes at the direct urging of the church’s leadership, and apologized for what he said was a loss of perspective in recent months.

At an “elders meeting” last week, Burgen said fellow leaders “sat me down and said, ‘Hey Jim, you’re really tired’ — I think they used the word ‘exhausted’ — and, ‘we want you to take a breath.’”

Burgen in recent years has overseen the church’s accelerated rise and expansion — and occasional controversy — with new campuses spreading from Denver to the foothills and with plans in the offing for a new K-12 school in Broomfield. Amid the growth, Burgen has seen his own profile rise, with the church’s Lafayette location routinely filling out its 4,000-seat venue for his weekend sermons.

Guiding a church of that size has come in recent months with with increasing strains and pressures, Burgen suggested, and “I think that when I get tired I should just push harder and that’s what I think I’ve done.

“What I wasn’t aware of is that I was devastating people — my wife; I was withdrawing from my kids, and I was just running over people here on our staff.

“I’m really sorry,” he added. “Cause I’ve let a lot of people down.”

Flatiron’s Communication Director Korrie Bartels said Tuesday the church would cycle several of its teachers and co-pastors for weekend sermons in Burgen’s absence. While he’s tentatively scheduled to return in six months time, church officials are wary of setting an exact date, offering only that Burgen would return when “he feels ready,” and that it likely wouldn’t come in the middle of a future series.

“Every time we turn on the news its like one more pastor fell apart,” Burgen said in Sunday’s video, but fellow church leaders “love me so much that before there was a moral failure, before there’s a financial failure, before there’s all this list of things that have taken leaders out, they said, ‘Let’s get on the front end of that and let’s take you out and let you rest for six months and disconnect from Flatirons’ so that I can come back.”

Apart from referencing the stresses of the job, Burgen and church officials are mum on the specific circumstances surrounding the break, though in Sunday’s video he was quick to address the inevitable rumors likely to swirl around such a prominent departure.

“I know rumors are going to take off, “ he said, “about ‘What’s the real story?’ This is the real story: I’m tired, it’s come out sideways and before I ruin anything, some men in my life that I trust have said, ‘you need to take a breath; it’s not optional, it’s not someday.’”