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

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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The 5 A’s of Agility: Adapting through Life Changes

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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Unmasking Mental Health: Building Resilience and Thriving “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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The Promise of Easter: Thriving in a Difficult World

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 for the Greater Good

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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Cultivating Spiritual Practices for the New Year

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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Bouncing Back or Bouncing Beyond? Shifting from Structures to Systems

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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Finding Agility through the 5 A’s

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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All Bets are Off: Rethinking the Basics Amid COVID-19

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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Thriving over the Long Haul this Fall

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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6 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 through Disruption

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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Thriving on the Road to Joy

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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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 3 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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Asset Building in Youth: Do You Treat Them as Half Full or Half Empty?

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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The Hopeful Lens 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