Posted by: Arden Compton | May 27, 2016

Who wants to be like Gollum?

imgresRemember the character Gollum from Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings? Does anyone want to turn out like him? The story tells us he started off normal, but when exposed to the Ring of Power he was seduced by it, he killed for it. All he cared for was the ring. He ended up loosing everything else that mattered in life. He used to live happily in the sunshine with other people. He retreated to a dark cave, and degenerated into a loathsome creature that barely resembled his former self. And what did the ring give him in return for sacrificing everything else? Nothing! There was illusion of power and pleasure, but the ring gave him nothing. When Bilbo stumbled on him, he was alone in a cave with nothing else in his life.
So, no, we don’t want to end up like him! But how many of us are on the early stages of the same path that Gollum took? You might be wondering who would do that? I was visiting with a client recently, and helped me see this analogy. He said that we are on Gollum’s path when we allow the pursuit of pleasure to dominate our lives; this ends up destroying our lives. We draw inward and give into our selfishness. We feel entitled to entertainment and pleasure, and when we can’t have it we feel wronged. We often respond with anger or resentment to those denying us the pleasure we are seeking, just as Gollum responded with anger to those who would not allow him to have the ring. With pleasure as the priority in our lives, we become smaller people, our character degenerates. We don’t care about others and their concerns in life. All that matters is that we get what we want when we want it. Those on this path often end up sacrificing so many things that are good for the sake of immediate gratification. Relationships, health, finances, employment, spiritual connections, and healthy leisure are ultimately sacrificed for the sake of immediate pleasure. As our selfishness grows, we shrink.

Christ taught that to find ourselves, we must loose ourselves. We  should reach out and seek to expand our capacity to be a force for good. The person who learns to discipline his appetites and desire for pleasure is a person in control. Mastering the physical needs of the body is essential for lasting happiness and success. To do this we must reach outside ourselves, serve God and seek to elevate the lives of those around us. As we master our physical appetites, we are able to do more good for more people, and we are genuinely happier than the selfish person.  How happy was Gollum with is ring in the cave? He was miserable! Yet he wouldn’t let go of the source of his misery, even at the cost of his life. The pursuit of pleasure is the source of misery for so many people, let it go!

What are the pleasures that people pursue that set them on Gollum’s path? It could be any number of things. Some of them we know are destructive, others can seem innocent. It all depends on the priority we give it in our life, and whether or not we are in control of our choice. People struggling with addiction are usually on this path. The addiction can be towards any number of things; drugs, alcohol, tobacco, gambling, shopping. Pornography is one that many people think is harmless, when in fact it is one of the most selfish and harmful addictions. For some people the pursuit of pleasure leads them to food. Many turn to the entertainment of TV, movies, video games, etc. For some it could be a sport, or a hobby. For some it could be skydiving. Again, not all of these things are bad, it is our motive that makes the difference. If pleasure is the object of our efforts, then we are on Gollum’s path.

Now you may be wondering if it is OK to have fun in life? Yes! Having healthy fun is part of happy, balanced life. I think we should have a lot of fun in life. However, lasting happiness doesn’t come from having fun. We can have fun as we serve others.We can have fun in a lot of ways that actually benefits us, rather than hurting us. But true happiness and joy in life don’t come from the pursuit of pleasure, it comes by giving love and service to others.  As author Chris Brady says, “To be happy, we have to give happy. Whatever we give out will come back to us.”  We need to be engaged in a purposeful cause bigger than ourselves. It comes from delaying gratification and sacrificing what we want now for something better later. Only then can we happy and content in life. The person pursuing pleasure only has fleeting moments of feeling content before they feel dissatisfied and hungry for more pleasure.

So, don’t follow Gollum.  Bridal your passions, live for a purpose rather than pleasure, reach our with love to serve others, be grateful for the good God has blessed you with, and your life will be awesome!

If you have any insights, feel free to share.



  1. Great post Arden and perfect analogy of “The Ring” to an addiction and Gollum to an addict. I made a short film titled Addiction Parallels in The Lord of the Rings Trilogy that you may enjoy watching:

    • Thanks! I will take a look at your video when I have a minute.

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