As I thought on this question, I realized that it is a loaded question. My opinion is just that, an opinion, but it may not be a fair answer without taking into consideration some basic considerations. For example, what determines success or failure? Which perspective is being considered? Who is determining the outcome? Is there a specified time period to consider?
Perhaps we should just consider these ideas separately so we will start with a definition of success or failure. My first thought is can it be both or is it either/or? Could something be considered both a success and a failure? The original question is presented as an either success or failure so we will start there. So what is the standard that makes it a success? Is it because it brings the desired outcome or the best outcome? Is it best for me or best for others? Is it because of monetary, emotional or appearance reasons? How about who is doing the determining of the outcome? One might conclude something a success whereas another would see it as a failure. And finally, what may appear a total loss could turn out to produce the greatest reward. As you can see this isn’t going to be an easy task and my conclusion could be just the opposite of yours.
Perspective is another consideration that can change the outcome. For example, let’s suppose that there are four of us sitting at a table on each of the four sides and we are looking at a cup sitting in the middle of the table. If I am looking at the cup and see that the handle is on the right, the person opposite of me sees the handle on the left, and the person to my right sees the handle in the middle and the person to my left asks, what handle? We are all looking at the same object, but from a different perspective. Sometimes we are not in a position to see the outcome and therefore could not make the determination of success or failure.
Values are another important aspect of deterring success or failure. My life is touched by many different things. If it affects my life then it may be important to me but if it doesn’t affect my life it may not be so important to me. The price of tea in China may not concern me unless I am buying or selling tea from China. If I am living in America and don’t use tea from China, it may not be important to me at all. Another consideration is if it doesn’t affect me directly, it may affect someone who is important to me and thereby affect me indirectly. What your values are will carry weight as to whether it is a success or failure.
Time is another consideration. Is the benefit needed quickly or is the final outcome more important. Variations of the time line of the event will necessarily affect our determination of success or failure. What may be considered a failure in the short term, may be totally different when viewed from a long term outcome. There may be many other considerations beyond these but these will suffice for my query.
By now you are seeing the problems with the original question. It is easy to see why we may not be able to determine whether the outcome is a success or failure. In our eyes we see a totally different view than that of God. We see how it affects us in a temporal world but God sees it from the eternal perspective. We see how it affects our environment, but God sees it from how it affect us in the light of eternity. We measure it in terms of our profitability but God sees it from the perspective of the good of everyone. We want to look good in the eyes of others, but looking good in God’s eyes is the only eyes that count. Because of these considerations (and probably many others) he stated in 1 Corinthians 4:3 But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man’s judgment: yea, I judge not mine own self. It is not necessary to know if an event is a success or a failure. All of us are flawed is determining such a thing. What is important is that you do it in faith in the Lord and leave the results in His hands. 1 Corinthians 10:31 Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.