Pamela Ebstyne King

Executive Director, Peter L. Benson Professor of Applied Developmental Science

About Dr. King

Pamela Ebstyne King, Ph.D. joined Fuller Theological Seminary as assistant professor of Marital and Family Studies in 2008, after serving in the School of Psychology for eight years as an adjunct and research professor. She was installed in 2014 with a professorship named for her mentor, Peter L. Benson. In 2021 she was promoted to the position of Peter L. Benson Professor of Applied Developmental Science. Dr. King is also executive director of the Thrive Center for Human Development.

Dr. King’s academic and applied efforts aim to promote a movement of human thriving that contributes to flourishing societies. Her primary academic interests lie at the intersection of thriving and spiritual development. She is passionate about understanding what individual strengths and environments enable humans to thrive and become all God created them to be. She holds particular interest in understanding the role of faith, spirituality, religion, and virtues in this process. To this end she has led in building an empirical field of study of religious and spiritual development within developmental psychology that provides a psychological scientific perspective of spiritual formation.

She has extensively studied and written on conceptualizations of thriving and positive youth development. Her work on telos is noted to provide an interdisciplinary framework for human thriving and flourishing from different philosophical, theological, and cultural perspectives and to provide a structure for understanding practical concepts like purpose, vocation, and joy. Her work combines theology, empirical research, and community engagement to further understand what contexts and settings enable people to thrive. She has conducted research funded by Biologos Foundation, the John Templeton Foundation, the Fetzer Institute, Compassion International, and Tyndale House, among others. In addition to her scholarship, she finds deep joy in teaching and mentoring students at Fuller. 

Dr. King is coauthor of The Reciprocating Self: Human Development in Theological Perspective and Thriving with Stone Age Minds: Evolutionary Psychology, Christian Theology & Human Flourishing, coeditor of The Handbook of Spiritual Development in Childhood and Adolescence, and coauthor of the inaugural chapter on research on religious and spiritual development in the seventh edition of the Handbook of Child Psychology and Developmental Science. She has served on the editorial boards of Developmental PsychologyJournal of Positive PsychologyApplied Developmental Science, the Encyclopedia of Applied Developmental Science, and the Encyclopedia of Spiritual Development in Childhood and Adolescence. She has also published articles in the Journal on Adolescent ResearchJournal of Early AdolescenceNew Directions for Child and Adolescent DevelopmentPsychology of Religion and Spirituality, and Journal of Psychology and Christianity. King is a member of the Society for Research on Adolescents, Society for Research on Child Development, and Division 36 of the American Psychological Association.

In addition to her studies at Fuller, Dr. King completed her undergraduate studies at Stanford University and a postdoctoral fellowship at Stanford’s Center on Adolescence; she was a visiting scholar under the divinity faculty at Cambridge University. Ordained in the Presbyterian Church (USA), she has led high school and college ministries, and regularly speaks, preaches, and consults for various community organizations and churches. She lives in Pasadena with her husband and three children.


+ View a list of her current publications and speaking engagements.

Read Posts by Dr. King

Want more Love and Goodness? Savor Gratitude

By Pamela Ebstyne King | Oct 23, 2023

“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.”― Ralph Waldo Emerson One way to understand spiritual health is a journey of becoming whole – of becoming wholly…

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Life off Autopilot: The Complexities of Activating into Purpose

By Pamela Ebstyne King | Sep 22, 2023

This is Part 2 of a 2-part series “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.” James Baldwin What’s keeping you from finding your purpose?  In Part 1 of this 2-Part series, I discuss how discovering your purpose is a vital part of spiritual health and…

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Observing the Body for Understanding

By Pamela Ebstyne King | Sep 22, 2023

A Practice for Spiritual Health A daily practice of tuning into our bodies can help us discern meaning. We often think of spiritual practices as being “out of body” experiences, but research shows that sitting quietly and observing our breath, bodily sensations, feelings, and our thoughts – is a very useful spiritual practice. Psychologists remind us that…

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Questions to Promote Love and Meaning

By Pamela Ebstyne King | Sep 22, 2023

Thinking through paths out of anxiety and fear If it rings true for you that you need to train your brain to tone down anxiety and/or discover more about yourself – your sources of love and mattering, and your purposes – find a trusted friend or loved one or a small group and work through…

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Life Off Autopilot: The Power of Purpose

By Pamela Ebstyne King | Aug 28, 2023

This is Part 1 of a 2-part series. “The meaning of life is discovering our gift, the purpose of life is giving it away.” Pablo Picasso Purpose is a core facet of spiritual health. Healthy spirituality provides more than a sense of connection, feelings of awe, or even an understanding of what is meaningful; spiritual…

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The Friendship Edit: Creating Meaningful Connections in a Digital Age

By Pamela Ebstyne King | May 1, 2023

“Unmitigated technology use is currently impacting our relational capacities by replacing time with actual humans and inhibiting the development of social skills. Such use spreads us too thin—beyond our relational capacity—among our many digital “friends,” develops a false sense of emotional intimacy without the accountability of actual relationships, and promotes unchecked individualism that is compromising…

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Living at the Intersection of Joy, Meaning, and Balance

By Pamela Ebstyne King | Apr 1, 2023

A couple of weeks ago, I spoke to a group of women about finding meaning and joy in their lives. Who doesn’t want a joyful life? I’ve spent hours researching joy, and have come to understand joy as a virtue – one that can be practiced and cultivated. We experience joy in moments of great…

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The Divine Individuality of a Thriving Life

By Pamela Ebstyne King | Mar 1, 2023

“Thriving requires or presumes that the individual is growing as a person and also is making a contribution beyond the self.”  King & Mangan, 2023 I wish I could offer each of you a specific thriving program with a guarantee that it would work for you.  Add a little A to a smidge of B,…

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The Balm of Being Loved and Held

By Pamela Ebstyne King | Feb 1, 2023

I I am often asked about strategies for thriving. “How do I thrive?” “What practices help with thriving?”  Thriving is complicated, and individuals thrive differently. However, I have a simple answer to the question of how to thrive. Offer more love. Love provides heart and motivation for the growth and contribution so essential for thriving – the love of…

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What is Thriving and Why is it Important?

By Pamela Ebstyne King | Jan 1, 2023

Thriving is living life on purpose. I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full (John 10:10b) Psychology and theology come together to provide a vision for the good life What is the fuss about thriving? From Kaiser Permanente to Petco, everyone uses the word. It’s an appealing idea, the…

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The Power of Pausing in Gratitude

By Pamela Ebstyne King | Dec 1, 2022

Gratitude affect happiness and wellbeing primarily through positive relationships. We finding that beliefs matters toward experiences and practices of gratitude.

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Practicing the 5 A’s to Slow down and Offer Thanks

By Pamela King | Nov 22, 2022

Practicing gratitude has the power to transform and involves our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Pay attention to this powerful positive emotion using these simple steps to guide you. Attune Become aware of the emotions you experience when you consider gifts you have received. Perhaps you feel the emotions of delight and joy; let them point you…

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The Power of Transcendence and Spirituality in a Modern World

By Pamela Ebstyne King | Sep 2, 2022

Pamela King reflects on the church of her youth and considers lessons from her current research findings about spirituality for the future.

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Rethinking Traditional Church for a Modern Age

By Pamela Ebstyne King | Aug 1, 2022

Pamela King reflects on the church of her youth and how it deeply formed her identity, sense of purpose, and belonging.

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A Practice: The Five A’s for Agility in the Face of Change

By Pamela Ebstyne King | Jul 4, 2022

Finding joy requires practice. Learn how you can be agile and experience more joy through our 5-step process.

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Strength Training for Thriving: How to Build our Mental Health Muscles

By Pamela Ebstyne King | May 2, 2022

As mental health awareness grows, Pamela King reflects on the tools we need to live coherent, purposeful lives.

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Recovering from Hardship

By Pamela Ebstyne King | Apr 4, 2022

Dr. Pamela King discusses how tapping into our faith and contributing to a flourishing world can help us thrive through difficulty.

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Next Wave Spirituality: Thriving From Within and From Beyond

By Pamela Ebstyne King | Jan 31, 2022

As the world continues to languish, Dr. Pamela King emphasizes the need for spirituality as a source of personal and societal transformation.

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New Rhythms: How Can I Grow my Daily Spiritual Practices?

By Pamela Ebstyne King | Jan 3, 2022

As we enter a new year, Dr. Pamela King invites us to find daily spiritual practices that will draw us closer to ourselves, others and God.

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Slowing Down and Thriving This Advent

By Pamela Ebstyne King | Dec 6, 2021

Dr. Pamela King highlights the importance of pacing during the holidays, offering self-awareness practices to refocus on what matters most.

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An Invitation to Thrive

By Pamela Ebstyne King | Nov 1, 2021

Dr. Pamela King invites leaders to reimagine and lead in new ways in order to enable all people and communities to thrive.

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The Wows and Woes of Graduation: Traversing Transition with Hope

By Pamela Ebstyne King | Jun 9, 2021

Dr. Pamela King reflects on her hopes for her son as he graduates high school and her new role as a partner in this next phase of their lives.

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Breaking Open: The Joys and Laments of Vaccinated Living

By Pamela Ebstyne King | Apr 30, 2021

As our country slowly begins to re-open, Pamela King calls us to re-orient our lives towards what matters most and brings us joy.

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How Can we Reestablish Meaningful Connection in This Digital Age?

By Pamela Ebstyne King | Jan 12, 2021

Dr. Pam King discusses the importance of creating transformative systems that will enable human thriving.

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While We Wait

By Pamela Ebstyne King | Nov 6, 2020

As Americans await the results of the 2020 elections, Dr. Pam King reflects on the importance of holding onto hope.

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Practice: The Five A’s of Agility

By Pamela Ebstyne King | Sep 30, 2020

Part of our journey towards thriving involves agility. Pamela King explains how we can be agile through this 5-step process.

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Resiliency Part 1: Bending not Breaking During Hard Times

By Pamela Ebstyne King | Sep 7, 2020

How can we carry out our basic needs and still thrive during COVID-19? Dr. Pam King shares 8 ways we can do this.

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Resiliency Part 2: Thriving for the Long Haul

By Pamela Ebstyne King | Sep 3, 2020

Dr. Pamela King reviews the elements of a thriving mindset, providing tips on how we can pursue each as we approach the fall of 2020.

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Lament and Hope in Times of Injustice and Racism

By Pamela Ebstyne King | Jun 5, 2020

Dr. Pam King reflects on injustice and racism, the importance of attuning to our emotions, and coming together as a community.

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Six Tips for Managing Emotions in Times of Uncertainty

By Pamela Ebstyne King | Jun 4, 2020

A key to thriving is learning how to respond to our emotions in the face of loss, grief, and pain. Here are 6 ways you can start doing this.

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A Quarantine Mother’s Day: Finding Purpose in the Middle of Crisis

By Pamela Ebstyne King | May 9, 2020

In an unprecedented Mother’s Day, Dr. Pamela King invites all mothers to focus on their purpose in order to live more fulfilling lives.

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Staying Grounded, Connected, and Directed

By Pamela Ebstyne King | Apr 23, 2020

Dr. Pam King discusses how spirituality can help us stay grounded, connected, and directed throughout challenges.

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Light in Darkness: Not a Wholly Unprecedented Holy Week

By Pamela Ebstyne King | Apr 9, 2020

Dr. Pam King explores how our beliefs can bring hope and light to our lives during dark times like COVID-19.

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Changing Our Focus from Surviving to Thriving During COVID-19

By Pamela Ebstyne King | Mar 12, 2020

Dr. Pamela King reflects on the importance of contemplative practices as the key to thriving during the unprecedented times.

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The Anchoring Power of Joy for Teens

By Pamela Ebstyne King | Jan 22, 2020

How can caring adults equip youth for a journey of long-lasting joy? Pamela King highlights the 3 essentials needed.

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Generic Viagra Available In Us – 24h Online Support, Absolute Anonymity

By Pamela Ebstyne King | Jan 5, 2020

Generic Viagra Available In Us – 24h Online Support, Absolute Anonymity Online pharmacy where you can buy Viagra over the counter: Is Generic Viagra Safe? It is important for a new mom to create an ultimate medical revolution in the new age in the 800 year heritage of the Drukpa Buddhist sect. What this…

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Viagra For Sale In United States – Sale: -20% Off

By Pamela Ebstyne King | Jan 5, 2020

Viagra For Sale In United States – Sale: -20% Off Online pharmacy where you can buy Viagra over the counter: What Is Viagra Generic? Your infected sexual activity can be corrected by adopting to a few changes or adhering to medications. For effective treatment of male erectile dysfunction, use kamagra tablets, a generic term…

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Orienting Ourselves Through the Holi-daze

By Pamela Ebstyne King | Dec 18, 2019

Dr. Pamela King reminds us about the significance of the holidays and orienting our lives to what matters through the holiday craze.

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Conversing on Thriving

By Pamela Ebstyne King | Nov 12, 2019

Pamela King discusses how community and purpose contribute to human development and flourishing.

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The Three Religious and Spiritual Assets of Youth Thriving

By Pamela Ebstyne King | Jul 15, 2019

Pamela King shares the 3 dimensions of religion and spirituality that promote positive youth development.

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Helping Youth with Failure

By Pamela Ebstyne King | Mar 22, 2019

Pamela King talks purpose, spirituality, and social connection as assets for helping youth overcome failure.

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Installation Address: An Invitation to Thrive

By Pamela Ebstyne King | May 16, 2016

In her installation address, Pamela King speaks on thriving as an invitation to embrace our purpose in God’s ongoing story.

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Survival of the Equipped (Part 2): Giving our Youth the Tools for a Thriving Life

By Pamela Ebstyne King | Oct 1, 2007

Explore how youth programs can help teens strengthen the developmental assets that contribute to their thriving.

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Survival of the Equipped (Part 1): The Emerging Perspective of Positive Youth Development

By Pamela Ebstyne King | Oct 1, 2005

Learn how ministries can serve and empower youth facing trauma through a developmental systems approach.

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Selected Publications