the identity issueIf Jesus should be our first,  our all in all  and our ultimate, how do we apply that to our studies and the future profession that we will be entering? How do we practically keep our identity rooted in Christ and sustain this amidst the changing seasons and challenges of life?
introduction - why the issue existsIdentity issues will affect us whatever our degree or career path, but there are factors unique to those studying medicine, midwifery and nursing. Some are obvious, such as being busy, a full university schedule and placements far away from our base. Some are more insidious like the pressure to perform and the fear of making a life or death mistake; pressures can come from everywhere; from ourselves, others and the course itself.These things should cause us to look outwards and most importantly, upwards for help and support,  but all too often we internalise them and they cause our studies to consume us and characterise who we are. Don't get me wrong, it is good for us to study medicine, nursing and midwifery.  It is good to want to use the skills and opportunities we have well, to show kindness, compassion and care to people made in the image of God.  But these things can so easily tip from being good things to 'god' things, putting our studies and future profession above our service and worship of God.  This, at its core, is idolatry. 
introduction: my storyFor me, I had recognised early on in my degree how easy it was for medicine to become an idol and I encouraged myself to 'hold it lightly'. I'd regularly ask myself how I would feel if medicine was 'taken away' from me - a useful reality check for my heart that I know is so easily prone to wander.  Answering that question was a way of reminding me to keep Jesus front and centre in my life and studies. It became harder to answer in that way when I got my dream job in my dream location. I was so desperate to impress my bosses and make my mark that God was slowly pushed out. The job started to define me and who I was. I'd come in early and stay late, then be too tired to do church on the Sundays when I wasn't working, let alone spending time in God's word and praying to him. I would prioritise the weekly optional team meeting over home group. I justified this to myself by saying, 'I am here as a Christian, I am being salt and light and I can save my professors, consultants and colleagues'. Or, 'I just need to get through this job then I can get my life on track'. At the heart of this was pride and a massive saviour complex. Instead of being defined by God and his word, finding my purpose and worth in him, medicine had become all of that for me. I had forgotten to fear God, not man;  I had forgotten that God is sovereign over all things, not my bosses;  I had forgotten that Jesus is the one who saves, not me;  I had forgotten to serve God and God alone.  What do the idols in your life look like? What does it look like to have your identity rooted in things other than God? Perhaps it's the thing you put in the gap of this sentence. 'I will be happy when…' — when I get that grade, get that relationship, get that house, get that role. Perhaps it is the satisfaction, self-validation and sense of purpose we get from people thinking that we work hard and are valuable in what we are doing?
how do we address this?When we root our identity in other things, we are drawn away from God, who he is, what he has done for us and what he requires of us.  We may proudly think we are a ship, anchored by our 'new god', but the reality is we are like driftwood in the sea  and all these things so easily 'perish, spoil and fade'  and leave us empty handed.Wrong priorities and shifted focus also take us away from the things that God is trying to teach us and grow us in.  It can take us away from where he is leading us and from our flourishing, which we can only do in and through him. 
let's get practical
It is important to recalibrate and refocus our hands, hearts and minds to walk in our identity in Christ and the things he calls us to do. But how do we do that? Here are five suggestions:
1. seek first his kingdom and his righteousness 
The wider context for this verse is the worrying we all do, the constant preoccupation with our tasks. 'I've got so much to do, need to finish that essay, go to the shops, do stuff for my CV, study for my exam — if I don't, everything is going to crumble'. Here Jesus is challenging us to redress that, I would argue, not just theoretically but literally. What is the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning? I'm ashamed to admit, it is usually checking my WhatsApp messages. For me, seeking his kingdom first in the morning means prioritising prayer and spending time with God over social media.There are so many things that distract us from this command, particularly considering the attention economy, which treats our focus as a resource to be commodified.  We need to minimise the distractions that take us away from God so we can seek him first. This is not easy, and we need to pray to be spiritually disciplined. Those of us that follow Jesus Christ are filled with the spirit of God and this spirit is one of power, love and self-discipline.  So let us recognise this and pray that the spirit will help us to seek him first in all things. What does seeking first his kingdom look like in your life? What distractions do you need to minimise to enable you to do this throughout your day?