One morning in spring 2007, Jill Abramson was crossing 44th Street in Manhattan when a delivery truck turned the corner and ran over her foot. After stitches, blood transfusions, and a titanium rod placed in her femur, Abramson left the hospital having secured her spot as one tough woman in the journalism world.

Or is that "brusque"?

Or "trailblazing"? Or "polarizing and mercurial"? Or "confident"? In a culture confused about women leaders, we've had trouble landing on the right Abramson Adjective.

These words are among the many used last week to describe The New York Times's first, now fired, female executive editor. For a newspaper that's struggled to retain women leaders, Abramson's 2011 appointment rang of historic import. "The Times is a place where truck-size egos constantly careen past newsroom cubicles and down the aisles," wroteSlate's Jack Shafer, referring to her accident. "Her superheroine powers as both immovable object and unstoppable force will come in handy."

Abramson, whose love for her job is tattooed on her back, joined the staff in 1997 as Washington bureau chief, later becoming managing editor. Like all leaders, Abramson had critics. Even some of her devotees said she could be "short with people, curtly cutting them off in mid-sentence." In a funny detail in Ken Auletta's exhaustive New Yorker profile, she would tell staff, "You have to read my book." But the same big personality that irked some peers also likely helped secure her the executive job. During her tenure, the news team gleaned eight Pulitzers as well as more women reporters and editors. At the least, she probably caused Clifton Daniel to roll over in his grave.

So why did Abramson get fired? The theories are still flying. Many of them raise questions of unequal pay, despite a statement from the Times's publisher that Abramson was outearning predecessor Bill Keller. Others note her failed attempt to hire another woman as co-managing editor, a move opposed by the new and first African American executive editor, Dean Baquet. Still others fixate on her supposed pushy/brusque/mercurial manner. Whatever the theory, it's hard not to read the story as gendered—as a story not simply about a leader but about a female leader, one who seemingly fell off the "glass cliff."

As managing editor of CT print, I found the Abramson story hit a nerve—a brusque nerve, you might say. You see, when I'm at work—especially at a workplace where there's always more to do than can be done—I like getting things done. Checking items off a daily to-do list gives me great pleasure. Yes, even more pleasure than a mani-pedi, a shopping trip, or dark chocolate. Add to this that I'm an introvert in a hallway full of other introverts, and sometimes I overlook the social dimensions of office life. A colleague once told me I can be "brusque." I let this sink in for a day, then approached him the next morning. "I know that I could stand to be warmer," I said, warmly. "But, I wondered if some of my male colleagues are also being asked to work on their warmth and sociability." He assured me that they were, and I can honestly say we're all getting pretty good at treating each other like fellow humans.

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Which brings us to the core issue, I think, for Christian men and women working together. It's common knowledge that women leaders , especially in busy settings, walk a tricky tightrope of managing others' subtle perceptions and expectations. Such was the topic of a chapter in Lean In, where Sheryl Sandberg notes,

…when a woman acts forcefully or competitively, she's deviating from expected behavior. If a woman pushes to get the job done, if she's highly competent, if she focuses on results rather than on pleasing others, she's acting like a man. And if she acts like a man, people dislike her.

Add to this the recent, counterintuitive findings in the May Atlanticcover story, that most professional women actually downplay their competence, attributing success to luck or circumstance instead of to their gifts or hard work. Journalists Katty Kay and Claire Shipman call this the "confidence gap," and it's keeping many women from attaining greater influence. But Kay and Shipman note the converse risk: "when [women] do behave assertively, they may suffer a whole other set of consequences . . . being disliked or—let's be blunt—being labeled a…" (we all know what comes next). It's safe to say Abramson was a confident person. But did confidence end up costing her the job, when her predecessors' only advanced theirs?

We'll never know all the factors in the firing. But at the least, we can glean from it a lesson about perceiving other Christians, and ourselves, rightly. Women leaders who might doubt their abilities can first rest in their identity in Christ: that they are God's workmanship (Eph. 2:10) and coworkers (2 Cor. 6:1), the salt and light of the earth (Matt. 5:13) and ministers of reconciliation in their spheres of influence (2 Cor. 5:17).

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These truths—alongside a healthy awareness of God-given gifts, intelligence, and experience—are the foundation of a proper confidence on the job as in any setting. A proper confidence frees us from inflating our egos to match those of male colleagues. It also frees us to take pride in a job well done, and to praise other women when they do the same.

Meanwhile, we are all probably wise to check how we view the women we work and worship with. When they make a firm decision, or give someone a task, or speak first in a group, what adjectives come to mind? Do they mimic the New Testament's description of people who are in Christ? Or do they assume the worst about the person's motives and inner state?

Fun fact: Women are humans. Which means they are capable of being as sinfully arrogant as any man. You won't hear me giving a pass to brusquely behaving women, myself included. But for the time being, we're still not operating on a level discipleship field: The sin we tend to overlook in men, we highlight in women. Until our perception of others grows less gendered and more "gospeled," I'm willing to bet that woman just wants to get things done.