Heart to Heart: Dr Mabel Baloyi

In this heart to heart interview we talk to wife, pastor, life coach, mother and mentor Dr Mabel Baloyi about life and the role of women in society.

Inside Woman: Dr Mabel please share your testimony of how you came to Christ with us? 

Mabel Baloyi: This was the most wonderful experience I have ever had. It was back in 1978 when I accepted the Lord Jesus at the age of 14. Just when I was about to be ensnared by adolescence issues, the Lord came into my life and made me his own.  It was during praise and worship. A simple Tswana Song from an old hymn book called Difela Tsa Sione (Songs of Zion) was sung. The song was called Na o reng Moetsadibe, O eme kae kajeno Sebaka se fedile, Ke letsatsi le le botlhoko (What are you saying sinner, Where are you standing today; time is up, It’s a sad day). The song touched the depths of my heart. I was broken into pieces. I cried out to the Lord to save my life. As I interpreted the song in my spirit, it was as if I will never have another chance. This is the only chance I have to be saved. I seized the moment. I accepted the Lord Jesus as my Lord and my personal savior. 34 years ago, I am still in love with Jesus. “Everyday with him, it is sweeter than the day before”.

Inside Woman:Being the wife of a Bishop, what is your role within the Church alongside your husband?

Mabel Baloyi: My husband and I understand the POWER of TEAMWORK. We work together as members of a team.  Church to us is like family. Family with Mom and Dad. I literally play the role of a mother in the church. It is for this reason that in our church, members just automatically go to mom when they have issues.  Guess what, they just refer to me as Mama, both young and old members! Church is an extension of our family. Our church members are our spiritual children. Our assignment is to ensure they eat healthy and balanced spiritual food. Most of all, my life has become an epitome of submission. Most people think I am too submissive. I am not sure as to what they see, I have never bothered to find out. I do understand, however, that if I submit to my husband, I submit to God. I also understand that submission simply means aligning myself to my husband. That’s all I do. It makes things simple. It also promotes teamwork. So, my role in the church alongside my husband is to become an effective partner in the work of the ministry through submission. We do pre and post marital counseling together, we preach together, we give / offer together, we pray together etc.

Inside Woman: What is the importance of serving in Church when you are a daughter of God?

Mabel Baloyi: What a wonderful question you’ve asked. The secret of serving is not discovered by many people. If people can discover this secret, they will serve in the church with meekness. According to Matthew 20:26, Jesus made it clear that greatness is embedded in the spirit of servanthood. Whoever wants to be great must be willing to serve others.  Jesus set an example of this. According to Philippians 2:7, the Bible declares that he made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. Jesus Christ being God was willing to serve. For him to be made after human likeness is good enough for us to learn that there is more to gain in being a servant. Thousands upon thousands of people have come to the knowledge of Christ through the servanthood spirit. If Jesus would have said, I do not want to become flesh; we would have been doomed for hell.  It is crucial that as children of God, we embrace the spirit of servanthood. This simply means that you give a service to others!

Inside Woman: What role does your faith play in your life?

Mabel Baloyi: Hebrews 11:6 declares, now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. It is impossible to please God without faith. My faith played an important role in my life.  I was able to make the right choices in life because of being sure of what I have hoped my life to be and being certain of what I actually could not see then with my naked eye. I was only able to see it with my spiritual eye. Come to think of my abusive background and domestic violence, I could have turned to anything unpalatable. Through the faith I have in God, I was able to lift my eyes to the hills from whence cometh my help. The word of God was always there to guide my choices. It is true that you are the product of the choice you made yesterday.

Inside Woman: You’ve launched Network of Women in Leadership. Tell us about the network?

Mabel Baloyi: My heart leaps with joy when you touch this subject. I do know for sure that my hand found something to do. Ecclesiastes 9:10, Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the grave , where you are going, there is neither working, nor planning , nor knowledge, nor wisdom.

The idea of the network was birthed in my spirit back in 2000. It was aimed at developing the leadership skills of the Pastors wives, offer mentoring and coaching and address the challenges they face on a daily basis. The Lord prepared me adequately for this assignment. As you can see, I did not launch the network then.  It was only launched in August 2010 and I believe it was the right time.

Through dialogue and focus group sessions, we discovered that there is a grave need to extend our services to women leaders in the market place as well. It turned out that our target group of Pastors wives are also active in the market place and they play leadership roles there. Although we are targeting women, it must be noted though that leadership issues are very generic. Therefore,   our conferences, Seminars, Workshops and dialogue sessions have been attended by both men and women and they have both benefited the same way.

The main objectives of the network are:

ü  Provide a platform for Kingdom Connections ( Networking)
ü  Leadership Development  ( Inspiring, motivating and developing leaders into becoming leaders of excellence)
ü  Life Coaching and Mentoring (Linking the Mentor to the Mentee of Coach to Coachee) this covers life in general including business coaching/mentoring, Leadership coaching/mentoring, Career coaching, personal improvement coaching etc.
ü  Infopreneurial ( A hub of information for leaders)

Inside Woman: When did you first realise the significance of mentoring in leadership?

Mabel Baloyi: Many pastor’s wives approached me, requesting me to become their mentor. I was not aware that I have been blindly mentoring them. At first, I would be surprised and ask why do you think I qualify to become their mentor? I have however, found joy in doing that, I did it in the most informal way.  Some Pastor’s wives told me, they have just been married to a pastor and they do not know what to do. Back in 2000, I realized it was important to offer mentoring in Leadership. This was formalized when I launched the network in 2010. The network now offers professional mentoring and life coaching sessions.

Inside Woman: What is the importance of developing and retaining women leaders particularly in the Church?

Mabel Baloyi: If you look at how things unfolded in the corporate and government, women have resumed leadership positions. Not only did they occupy those positions, a lot of training and development was and is put in place for them. Even though they have their good credentials, the workplaces still find it necessary to develop them. To retain them they give them market related or competitive packages and ensure that the working environment is healthy and enjoyable.

The church is God’s business. Everyone serving in the church must be groomed and developed to serve effectively and efficiently as a leader. Over and above Bible studies or training, there are other technical issues relating to leadership (i.e. Church Governance, Church Management, Leadership, Ministry) one needs to understand the difference. When leaders are developed and equipped with skills, it is then that they can lead effectively. Retaining women leaders in the church is very simple: give them room to excel in their various ministries and gifting. No one wants to be kept in a bottle. Everyone must fulfill God’s divine purpose for their lives. Good leaders identify the potential of the people they lead and they give them room to grow and unleash their full potential.

Inside Woman: You have been privileged to speak into women’s lives of all ages and stages in life. What do you perceive to be some of the most pressing issues or concerns facing women in the Church today?

Mabel Baloyi: The most pressing issue of concern facing women in the church today is that the church is still struggling with women resuming leadership positions. Various cultures, traditions and norms do not have room for women leaders. The church has also crafted its tradition and norm based on just one or two verses in the New Testament (1Cor 14:34) which do not seem to allow women to have a ministry which involves public speaking or 1 Tim 2:12 which involves a woman teaching a man. We will touch more on this in the article and speak to women leaders of the Bible. Women with various gifting or those operating in the fivefold are still suffering due to the prohibitions influenced by these two verses.

Inside Woman: Who has been the most influential leader in your life?

Mabel Baloyi: My husband. I have developed and have come to this level because of him. I know your question wants me to talk to one person who mostly influenced my life. There are many of them. Referring to my husband as the most influential leader may be a bit subjective, however, his congregation will agree with me on this one. On the female side, I have been touched by the late CEO of Matthew Goniwe School of Leadership and Governance, Ms Zandile Kunene Mbeje . The lady left a mark that cannot be erased by anyone in my life. Honestly I have never come across a female leader who is so powerful and yet very humble. She was a great listener, communicator and a catalyst of feminine leadership empowerment. I do not remember her getting emotional about issues . She had a high level of emotional intelligence and was always very composed. When the people were hit by fear, she will always come with words of reassurance, hope and affirmation. She was my blind mentor and coach. I used to tell her this and say it in public whenever I had a chance to introduce her as a speaker. I was still learning from her and she was taken to be with Lord. May her soul rest in peace!

Inside Woman: What are some of the main changes that you’ve seen for women in leadership over the last 10 or 15 years?

Mabel Baloyi: Well, I think that it was good to observe women been given the opportunity to lead. I have a lot of respect for Former President of South Africa Mr. Thabo Mbeki. I witness a lot of this during his tenure. Generally, I have a lot of respect for a man who sees potential in a woman and find a way to bring that to the fore without feeling threatened by that woman.

Although the church still need to get to grips with the issue of women in leadership, I must say that, some women have been given an opportunity in the church to take up the leadership role.  My ordination as a Pastor took place back in 1999; however, I have observed a paradigm shift from 1994. The study that I have conducted in 2011 revealed some shocking findings. Basically, it revealed that the church is still grappling with this issue, based on the two scriptures that I have alluded to before.  Regardless of the challenge that the church is still grappling with, women are responding to their divine callings. Many are operating in the five fold ministries. Given a fair chance to grow and develop in their various local churches, they could become very effective in the body of Christ.

Inside Woman: What are the biggest challenges facing women leaders today?

Mabel Baloyi: Women leaders face various challenges:

Barriers from traditional attitudes.

  • A woman is viewed as a homemaker and a mother.

  • She is viewed as not competent in the public domain and in the professional arena.

  • Even if a woman achieved positions of leadership, there is still persistent belief in her inferiority complex compared to men in similar positions of responsibility.
2.       Family responsibility.

  • Women are under pressure to juggle demands of career and family.

  • There is constant criticism for failure to achieve perfection whilst men are rarely subjected to the same security and expectations.

3.       Personal Inclination.

  • Women are more prone to nurturing relationships.

  • They focus on the person and emotions involved rather than tasks and issues.

  • Women leaders always look for the compassionate solution.

  • Women shy away from being assertive and avoid conflict.

These inclinations can be seen as a weakness. Particularly when compared against the more ruthless leadership styles of their male counterparts. Thus it may be for women to adjust and adapt their personal communication styles and attitudes in order to maintain respect in leadership roles.

Inside Woman: What one book has been most influential in your role as leader?

Mabel Baloyi: I am a student of Dr. John C Maxwell, Jack Welch and Myles Munroe. I have read most of their books. The three books in one volume by John C Maxwell (The winning attitude, Developing Leaders around you and Becoming a person of influence). Winning: The Answers: Confronting the 74 of the toughest questions in business today by Jack Welch, Suzy Welch. The spirit of a leader by Myles Munroe. Honestly, I am just a bookworm and a researcher.

Inside Woman: As an older woman, what exactly is your role in the lives of the younger women that God has blessed you with?

Mabel Baloyi: I play the role of a mentor, coach and teacher. Most of all I teach them to excel in all areas of life. To become women of prayer, discretion and women after God’s own heart.

Inside Woman: How do we build up lasting self-worth in young women?

Mabel Baloyi: By teaching them that self worth starts from within. What you believe God says about you and not what a boyfriend or a man will tell you.  Young women must be taught to navigate their way in the word of God. They must be grounded in the word. All their answers are there. If they want to know how they look, they must consult the word. According to Psalm 139:13 -14, for you have created my inmost being, you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful. I know that full well. The second thing that can build a woman’s self worth is the fear of the Lord. A woman who fears the Lord is so beautiful. No boyfriend or man can break her cause they did not make her. The Lord himself took the trouble to knit her whilst she was in her mother’s womb.

Inside Woman: The Bible says older women teach younger women yet I see a lot of young women taking care of themselves because our spiritual mothers are “busy achieving their goals”. How do we address this issue?

Mabel Baloyi: Spiritual mothers must learn to balance career and taking care of spiritual children. Spiritual children must also consult their spiritual mothers if they need anything from them so that a plan can be devised. It takes two to tango. Spiritual mothers will teach what they teach in church, however, if people need more attention they should approach them otherwise they may not be aware that they need more attention.

Inside Woman: So many young women are “birthing themselves” into their ministries. They don’t wait for their spiritual parents to release them into their destinies. Like the prodigal son they demand their inheritance and they want it now.  Please advice.

Mabel Baloyi: The example of Elijah and Elisha is perfect for this question. Elisha waited for the appointed time. He served fro 10 years under Elijah. When the appointed time has come, he got Elisha’s Mantle and he performed more miracles than Elijah.

Sometimes we deceive ourselves by thinking that because I operate effectively in one of the fivefold offices, I can go and start my own thing. Some do that before the appointed time. It is important to serve like Elisha. Wait, be patient as you go through the process of preparation. If you are called, engage your spiritual parents. They should be able to guide, prepare you for ministry and release you.

Inside Woman: What is your view on how women of God should dress? And is this still an issue that needs to be addressed? And how do we go about doing it?

Mabel Baloyi: Women should dress modestly with decency and propriety according to 1 Timothy 2:9.  I think this is an issue that still needs to be addressed.  We need to understand that there are clothes you can wear when you go to the picnic, sea, work and church.  Image is important. That is why even today, there are image consultants who help people to take care of their images and to dress properly for different types of occasions. I taught wardrobe planning in church to the ladies. Modesty and propriety can be interpreted differently by different people. I made sure in church that we understand modesty the same way. Define modesty for ourselves.  You will notice when you visit our church that there will be one or two members of the worship team with a shawl to cover themselves when they sit down. This teaching came about as we spoke about different lengths of clothing. If you know your skirt or dress does not touch the floor when you kneel down, you must carry a shawl with you to cover yourself when you sit down. Clothes have a tendency of lifting when you sit down. They also have uniforms which makes them look modest. Yes this issue must definitely be addressed.

Inside Woman: How can younger women find their “spiritual mothers”? What do they need to do?

They need to approach them. Sometimes people may be making an impact in your life without them noticing.  Be bold and speak to them.  You should know your spiritual parents. Some people like to claim they have grown people spiritually, however, if a person is contributing to your spiritual well being, you will definitely know!

Inside Woman: Do you have any words of encouragement for women who are dealing with depression and feeling hopeless?

Mabel Baloyi: It is not over until God say it’s over. Don’t throw give up. There is hope for you. Jeremiah 29: 11. For I know the plans I have for you, plans not to harm you but to give you hope and a future. God does not have only one plan of prosperity, hope and a future for you. He has many plans.  Cast all your cares upon him for he cares about you. It’s going to be all over in the morning. Weeping may endure for a night but joy cometh in the morning.

Inside Woman: In a world of uncertainty pain, and struggle, where do you go to find solid and steadfast assurance?

Mabel Baloyi: My solid and steadfast assurance is found in the word of God. He declared in His Word that I am more than a conqueror through Jesus Christ my Lord. He also said no weapon formed against me shall prosper. He shall never leave me nor forsake me. If I come to Him in prayer, He will listen and He will deliver me. My ultimate steadfast assurance is in the Lord.

I also understand that if I do not go through pain I will not gain anything. As the saying goes, No pain, No gain. I have learnt in life that pain, struggle and problems are necessary for us to go through because therein, lies the lessons of life. Life is a school and we need our pains and struggles to go through these lessons. In the process we learn how to trust in the Lord and to take him at his word.

Inside Woman: If you could go back to the woman you were at, say, age 28—what would you like to tell her?

Mabel Baloyi: Lose the excuses and pursue your destiny. The excuses that you make in life prevent you from realizing your goals. Excuses such as I am still young, I don’t have the money, experience, knowledge etc. Shake off all the excuses and begin to live your life to the fullest. Embark on your journey to fulfill your divine destiny.