Runner-up is the real win – what my new obsession with Sam Ryder has reminded me this week

Who could have missed the pure joy on Sam Ryder’s face when he heard the final vote and discovered he had come second in the Eurovision Song Contest? He didn’t make the top spot on the Official UK Chart this week either.  Second place looks pretty good on him though!  

I was late to the party (not really knowing anything about him before last Saturday night) but this week I’ve become slightly obsessed with this ex-construction worker from Maldon. I have been checking SIA’s first Instagram post about him that launched his journey towards fame and recognition, tracking back through his Instagram to the moment he first mentions SPACE MAN (Nov 2021), watching his wild eyes as he belts out another Whitney classic in his shed, but mostly, appreciating his humour and zest for life! What a guy!

Recognising that Ukraine deserved the top spot and playing homage to Kalush Orchestra in his pink bucket hat at Arrivals, Sam Ryder is revelling in coming second place. Having failed to secure any votes in the song content over the past few years, we’re all revelling in that too! 

We’re all called to be runners up. The pride that creeps in when we need to be first mentioned, first acknowledged, given credit for success, or excused menial tasks because there’s a new underdog in the office or home – this is not attractive. A life of service positions us somewhere lower down the pecking order, and I’ve come to realise that it’s one of the main things I admire when I people-watch.

I took a break from my new obsession and opened the Bible app, to read these verses:

Jesus Washes His Disciples’ Feet

It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.

The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.
Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.

John 13: 1-17


This world was not Jesus’ home. He was here for a purpose, and he was going to see it through to the end.  We don’t belong here either!  We’re here for a purpose, and whatever that purpose is, it will involve service.

Have you done any people-watching this week?  Who have you admired as you interacted with or observed those around you? Here are three of mine: 


  • A lengthy discussion about the difference between the words ‘inclusion’ and ‘belonging’, with a desire to put everyone else’s feelings first.
  • A couple losing sleep over the health of two people they have never met and now tweeting their MP to plead with her to intervene and help bring their Ukrainian guests here.
  • A teenager joyfully taking on the job of revamping the admin side of Youth nights at church – encouraging, listening to, and instructing a team of people his parent’s age.

What kinds of things feature on your list? The people I’ve just listed make me want to share the journey with them, and they want to make things better for others. They are also people who thank others a lot. This is something else Sam Ryder seems to do. He must have mouthed ‘thank you’ a million times during that lengthy voting section of the show. And as soon as it finished, he had this to say: ‘Just destroyed the stigma! Thanks everyone for supporting. That was an incredible, incredible, rewarding journey. I hope you enjoyed it!’



If I was an astronaut, I’d be floating in mid-air
And a broken heart would just belong to someone else down there
I would be the centre of my lonely universe
But I’m only human, and I’m crashing down to earth

I’m up in space, man
Up in space, man
I’ve searched around the universe
Been down some black holes
There’s nothing but space, man
And I wanna go home



At risk of sounding like a 13-year-old Smash Hits reader at a sleepover, I am also a  little obsessed with the lyrics.  They tell a lonely journey of a search to feel better, and a realisation that home is where that will happen.  I’m inspired by people giving up their usual seat at church so that those who feel they’ve ‘searched around the universe and been down some black holes’ might realise that being ‘up in space (man)’ and trying to be ‘the centre of their lonely universe’ were the wrong things to try and be. When they ‘wanna come home’ we want them to feel at home with us. (And if you’re passionate about this too, then please come to Undivided Heart, our 2023 weekend away!)

Scroll to Top

By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. more information

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.