I've struggled with this question many times during the last couple of years. Mainly because of my part in a church plant. In the beginning of my relationship w/ North Point (soon to be Compass Church!!) I didn't really know what a church plant was, and I most definitely didn't know what I was getting into. I DID know that God was giving me an opportunity to get involved with what He is doing by being a part of this new venture. Throughout our church's journey (see our story here) we've asked ourselves many times how we define success. I think the closest I've come to a definition is "Being obedient to what God has called me to do" - that's success. I must be obedient to God and the success of my efforts is up to Him - isn't that comforting? - God is in control of the success or failure of the mission.
I found a verse today that I had read before, but not from this perspective - "Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ ." 2 Corinthians 1:21.
Here's a quote from the bible study:
"The lesson I have learned from my failures is that I don't have to succeed. I have to do the right thing under God's guidance, and leave success or failure in His hands." - isn't that cool??
My part in God's plan is to stand firm in Him - to be obedient, to do the right thing - He'll take care of the rest.
I love this verse because it helps me to concrete in my mind a kingdom mindset, or a Big Picture perspective - I am not even able to stand firm in Christ apart from His guidance. I cannot even obey on my own. However, "I can do all things through Him who gives me strength" - with God's guidance - I can do my part! I can stand firm! My success within this church plant is dependent not on my own talents, abilities or hard work - but on God's abilities. My part is to be obedient and to always do the right thing according to God's guidance - and His plan will succeed.
Proverbs 3:5-7 (New Living Translation)
5Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. 6Seek his will in all you do, and he will direct your paths.
Very cool stuff indeed!