"The mortification of sin consists not in the improvement of a quiet, sedate nature. Some men have an advantage by their natural constitution so far as that they are not exposed to such violence of unruly passions and tumultuous affections as many others are. Let now these men cultivate and improve their natural frame and temper by discipline, consideration, and prudence, and they may seem to themselves and others very mortified men, when perhaps, their hearts are a standing sink of all abominations. Some man is never so much troubled all his life, perhaps, with anger and passion, nor doth trouble others as another is almost every day; and yet the latter hath done more to the mortification of the sin that the former. Let not such persons try their mortification by such things as their natural temper gives no life or vigour to. Let them bring themselves to self-denial, unbelief, envy, or some such spiritual sin, and they will have a better view of themselves."*
This marvelous quote from John Owen's Mortification of Sin describes what God has taught me through parenting five very different people. One child's natural constitution, or temperament, leads to very obvious, very unruly and passionate sin. All who know us see it and see the struggle. It takes a lot of my energy. And yet, it is important to remember that the children I parent who do not have this natural constitution toward unruly and passionate sin, have lurking sins in their own natural temper that are easier to deny but just as damaging to their spiritual condition. Worse, when people not given to anger and passion compare themselves to those who are, pride takes hold.
*Chapter V: "The Principal Intendment of the Whole Discourse Proposed."